Christmas, Seasonal, Sweet Treats, Yummy Recipes

Boozy Baking and a Squeeze of Lemon in My Tea: Rich Fruit Cake (DIY Wedding Cake)

For a Gluten and Dairy Free version of this Rich Fruit Cake, check out my other post here.

I thought I’d re-post this recipe for any one getting ready to bake a rich fruit cake for Christmas.  If you have any questions ask them in the comments section and I’ll answer as best I can.  Check out my other post on How to Feed Your Rich Fruit Cake if you’re planning to mature your cake for a few months.  Feeding it will keep it nice and moist.  We’ve found that 3 months of maturing is the sweet spot.  You can of course eat it at any time but I would recommend making this cake at least a month ahead of time.

** Update 2018: I now make this Rich Fruit Cake dairy free as my youngest son and I have an allergy to Dairy.  I use Extra Virgin Coconut Oil 1 for 1 by weight for the butter in this recipe – no need to melt it, just cream the coconut oil like you would room temperature butter.

Rich Fruit Cake Recipe Rum I’ve recently been on a mission to make the perfect rich fruit cake and I think I’ve cracked it!  If you’re looking into making your own wedding cake or want a home made fruit cake this Christmas then this recipe is easy, tasty and stores well for months.  I’ll mention alternative ingredients (it’s flexible) at the bottom of this post.  This recipe is for an 8 inch (20 cm) round cake or a 7 in (18 cm) square cake.  A loose bottomed and deep cake tin is best but as long as you have lined the tin correctly nothing should stick and you will be able to slip it out without any damage.  Head over here for the different quantities for different sized tiers.


  • 800g of a mix of Sultanas, Currants and Raisins (I’ve made this with Sultanas alone in a pinch)
  • 50g (2 oz) of Glacé Cherries (rinsed and finely chopped)
  • 50g (2 oz) of mixed peel (lemon or orange work well), finely chopped
  • 100mL (3.5oz) of Brandy
  • 225g (8 oz) of Plain (All Purpose) Flour
  • 1/2 a level teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/4 a level teaspoon of Nutmeg
  • 1/2 a level teaspoon of Mixed Spice
  • 50g (2 oz) of Almonds (chopped, with skins on or off)
  • 225g (8 oz) of Soft Brown Sugar
  • 1 level dessert spoon of Black Treacle (Molasses)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)
  • 225g (8 oz) of Unsalted Butter (You can use Coconut Oil for a Dairy Free Fruit Cake)
  • 4 eggs
  • Grated Rind of 1 Lemon (Optional)
  • Grated Rind of 1 Orange (Optional)

*Note I’ve made this Rich Fruit Cake without Glace Cherries, Mixed Peel and Almonds when I couldn’t source them and it turned out fine (just a little less festive really).

1/ In a large bowl place the currants, sultanas & raisins and add in the Brandy (I used dark rum this time).

Give it a stir and on the counter either store in a bowl covered with a clean tea towel (to keep bugs out) or store in a lidded container (I use a glass pyrex dish with a lid).

Leave to soak for a minimum of 12 hours.  I soak mine for up to 5 days but I am in a mild climate so results may vary if you’re in a hot humid climate!

2/ Grease and line your cake tin with greaseproof paper/baking paper.  I’m notorious for throwing caution to the wind and not lining  my cake tin but for a rich fruit cake it’s a must! You’re slow baking this baby for a long time and you don’t want it to get too brown on the outside.  I even go as far as to double line my tin (I know, shocking given my general laziness).

3/ Preheat your oven to 140C (275F, gas mark 1)

4/ Sift the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl. Add in the eggs, treacle, vanilla, butter (or coconut oil) and brown sugar and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes or until smooth, fluffy and combined.

{ NOTE from 2018:  My old instructions for this step in 2011 were different.  I’ve became lazier over the years!  The fruit cake pictured used the longer more involved method.  I’ve found recently that I get good results from just mixing it all together in the bowl and it is a lot less effort.  It’s possible my cake was a little more moist and fluffy with the less lazy method so I will include my old instructions here in case you have some extra time on your hands and want to go the slower route.  All the photos taken of this cake in 2011 were from a cake made with this method:  –Sift your flour, salt and spices into a bowl and set aside.  –In a small bowl or jug whisk your eggs.  –In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and brown sugar with your electric mixer.  –Add the egg to the creamed butter and sugar one tablespoon at a time.  After each tablespoon of egg I found giving it a gentle stir before beating thoroughly with my mixer worked best.  At some point (normally a few tablespoons in) your mixture may start to look like it’s going to separate (break/curdle).  Prevent this happening by adding a teaspoon of your flour mixture before continuing on adding the egg.  –Once all the egg has been added, fold in your flour and spice mixture to the large mixing bowl. –Stir in the treacle and vanilla }


5/ Fold in your soaked fruit, chopped almonds, glace cherries, mixed peel and the zest of the lemon and the orange.

6/ Spoon the mixture into your prepared cake tin.  Smooth the mixture out with the back of a spoon.

7/ Before placing in the oven place a double square of greaseproof/baking paper resting over the top of your cake tin (I cut a rectangle and fold it in half).  Cut a small hole in your square to allow steam to escape (about the size of a 50p coin).

8/ If your oven is fan forced, turn off the fan.  Bake your cake on the lower shelf of your oven and resist the urge to open the door for a peek until it’s been baking for at least 4 hours.

9/ After 4 hours, check on your cake to see if it is cooked.  It should be springy in the middle when gently pressed with a finger.  If it’s not yet done then bake for longer and check again in 15 minutes.  Usually the cake will be done between 4½-4¾ hours.

10/ If your oven runs hot or cold and you are baking this cake for a wedding then it may be wise to invest in a thermometer to check the temperature of your oven.  After ending up with black edges a few times I found I needed to bake mine for only 4 hours and at 130C rather than 140C as my oven runs hot.

{ I always feel bad for the poor naked lemon used and abused for his zest.  The orange naturally gets gobbled up in no time but the lemon sits around till it goes mouldy a day or two later.  In the interest of not wasting the lemon I’ve taken to sitting down with a cup of tea (or 2…or 3) with a squeeze of lemon whilst waiting for the cake to bake }

11/ Remove your cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  The circle of baking paper from your cake tin will be stuck to the bottom of your fruit cake, just leave this on if you like (I always do).  Once completely cooled feed your cake (for a photo step-by-step here’s my post on Feeding Your Fruit Cake), leave sit for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the alcohol to soak in, then wrap your cake in greaseproof paper followed by a layer of aluminium foil.  Place in an airtight cake tin and place at the bottom of a cool, dark cupboard or in the back of your pantry.

12/ I recommend leaving your fruit cake to mature for at least a month and then feeding it with whichever spirit you used at regular intervals (monthly is ideal but sometimes I forget and no harm done!).  Recipe is adapted from Delia’s recipe found here.


Alcohol for Soaking I’ve used Brandy, Dark Rum and Apricot Brandy with great results.  A few other alcoholic options are Cointreau, Sherry and Red Wine.  For a non-alcoholic version you can use strong black tea or orange juice.  If you choose not to use alcohol you will need to store your cake in the freezer after the first few weeks to prevent spoilage without alcohol to preserve it.  I’m going to try soaking in Tia Maria for my next attempt.  I’ll report back on how it goes.

Dried Fruit I like the meatiness of the currants in this recipe as they’re not overly sweet but you can mix and match really any dried fruits (chopped) of your choice as long as the weight is the same.  A few suggestions:  dried cranberries in place of raisins, chopped dried prunes in place of sultanas.

Other Flavours You can use ground cinnamon in place of nutmeg.  You can add a little orange juice/lemon juice or a bit of marmalade.  Just keep in mind that for every tablespoon of added liquid you’ll need approximately 1 ounce of extra flour.


For more Christmas treats check out my recipes for:

Apricot Balls

Rum Balls

Peppermint Creams

Fruit Mince Pie filling (mincemeat)

16 thoughts on “Boozy Baking and a Squeeze of Lemon in My Tea: Rich Fruit Cake (DIY Wedding Cake)”

  1. How does this taste right out of the oven? I don’t think I could wait for it to be mature. 4 HOURS?? It bakes for 4 HOURS?? Is this why fruit cake has such a lousy reputation? Because it was baked months before hand and it’s basically harden like a rock? Does the alcohol keep it moist?

    I can’t get black treacle here. Vegemite and Marmite, yes, black treacle, no. That wouldn’t be like molasses, would it?


  2. It is a bit fiddly and I curse the “bright idea” to start making a fruit cake moments after I start adding the eggs 1 tablespoon at a time (painful!) but it’s worth it to me in the end. I must admit the “soaking” taking 5 or so days comes down to me procrastinating starting the silly thing…oops 😉

    It tastes fine straight out of the oven Irene! The flavours just won’t be as developed. It is still very moist after months, even the fruit cake I pulled out last month that I had forgotten to “feed” with alcohol since February (oops) was very moist. Feeding it does definitely keep it more moist though so I’d definitely recommend it, more booze is always a plus too 😉

    Just did some googling and yes, black treacle is the same thing as molasses!


  3. Now you see, this wouldn’t last 2 days in my house. The kids would demolish it! I would have to hide it or keep yelling at them not to taste it.

    How on earth does it stay that moist for so long? I guess the alcohol acts like a preservative.


  4. The cake’s pretty dense with all that fruit and it doesn’t rise as much as, say a sponge cake so there’s not a lot of fluff in between all the fruit. The alcohol and high sugar content in the dried fruit definitely helps to preserve it too (along with keeping it in an air tight container and in a cool dark place).

    I normally bake these when the kids aren’t home and then hide them, lol. Much easier to hide baked goods from under 12’s then full grown adults though!

    To be honest I only got into the fruit cake making thing because I’ve ummed and ahed over starting a wedding cake business from home. Which is probably why I’m so “into” it. I do think its pretty yummy too 🙂 I’ve experimented with lots of different combos for that reason too (give brides options) but I’m not so sure how my decorating skills will hold up. I can bake just about anything but making it look pretty isn’t in my skill set.

    I haven’t given up hope yet though…and at least baking “practice” cakes makes me seem productive 😉


  5. Excellent! I love fruitcake and a Jamaican friend used to make us a Jamaican “Black Cake” (their version of fruitcake made with dark rum) every year. Now she’s too old. I don’t understand why fruitcake is so maligned. Your post may just jog me into giving it a try. Fine, illustrative photos–tack sharp and well-composed! Thanks.



  6. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting Ken! I love a good fruit cake too, especially at Christmas time. My mother-in-law always brought along the rich fruit cake at Christmas but then we moved across to the other side of the world and the task fell on me. I hadn’t heard of Jamaican Black Cake but just googled it…wine AND dark rum, sounds delicious! Thank you for the comments on my photos, I’m definitely a beginner but nice to know I’m moving in the right direction.


  7. Hi Annabel 🙂

    So glad the recipe worked well for you, we’re looking forward to gobbling up our fruit cake on Christmas day too!

    Thanks for letting me know how yours turned out, I love the feed back 🙂


  8. Hello I know this is an old post but its the best looking moist fruit cake iv come across, so I hope you reply.
    I am making my own wedding cake and just wondered how deep your 8″ cake tin you used was? I am hoping to make this for a round 8″ x 5″ deep tin. Can anyone tell me if I should do the recipe 1 1/2 or just double it to be safe.
    Kat x


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