Easy Moist Boiled Fruit-Cake Recipe (2024)

With Easter coming up I shall have a houseful of people to feed. My easy Boiled Fruitcake is a wonderful treat to serve with a cup of tea, or heated as a dessert with fresh cream, custard or ice-cream. Even non-cooks can make this cake!

I love this recipe because I can whip it up with ingredients I have in the pantry. It keeps well, and freezes well too. (The picture above also shows a batch of my Lemonade Scones, to which I added some dates and lemon rind. Sorry, no tablecloth the day this picture was taken – we’d been out mustering cattle and were all a bit grubby for fancies.)


1.2kg mixed dried fruit (you can buy this as a bag of mixed fruit but I rather like using what is to hand), 250g butter – cubed, 1 and 1/4 cups water if using pre-packaged mixed fruit, 2 cups of water if using a combination where the fruit looks quite dry, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1 x 395g tin of condensed milk, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or vinegar of your choice), 2 tablespoons rum or brandy, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 2 cups of plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Almonds and/or cherries to decorate if desired. *Note – if you wish, substitute strong tea for the alcohol, and gluten-free flour instead of plain flour


Place your mixed fruit into a large saucepan. (For this cake in the picture I used 200g of dried peaches finely chopped, 100g of goji berries, 400g of dates and 500g of sultanas and a handful of chopped pecans as that was the fruit I had to hand. The gojis, dates and peaches were very dry so the extra water was needed!) Add the chopped butter, water and Bicarb Soda and bring to the boil, stirring often so nothing sticks to the bottom. When it has begun to boil turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. This takes a few hours and plumps up all the fruit beautifully.

After cooling it should look like this, with nice juicy fruit pieces.

When the mixture has cooled preheat your oven to 150 degrees celcius – you want a slow oven so the cake cooks through thoroughly without burning or drying out. Prepare a large round or square tin by lining it with baking paper, or choose two or three smaller tins. (I used three for this batch as I wanted to eat one, give one away, and have one to keep.)

While the oven is heating, add your condensed milk, vinegar, alcohol and vanilla, stirring well. Just mix it straight into the big saucepan. That way you only have one pot to wash up! The mixture will foam a little – don’t panic, this is normal. Then sift your flour, baking powder and spices into the mixture and stir through until combined. Taste the raw batter and adjust spices if necessary. You mixture will be thick and you’ll need a strong arm.

Spoon the mixture into the tin or tins. Wet your hand and then press down lightly on the mixture to smooth it out and make the tin evenly filled, ensuring the mix is pressed in well into the corners.

You may then decorate the top with almonds or cherries if you wish. Place in the oven and follow the baking times below, using a skewer to test of the cake is done about ten minutes before the time is up. If it comes out clean the cake is ready, if mixture still adheres to the skewer bake a little longer.

3 x 8cm by 25cm tins – bake for 50 minutes to one hour

2 x 12cm x 23cm loaf tins – bake for one hour and twenty minutes

1 x 24cm square tin – bake for two hours

When you pull the cakes from the oven pour a capful of extra rum or brandy over the top while the cake is still warm. Then leave them to cool in their tins before removing.

These ones are the date and goji fruit mixture I described in the method above, using rum. They are rich and dark and divine:

And this batch was predominantly sultana, cherries and a little mixed peel with brandy, which gave a lighter texture and flavour:

These make great gifts, and the flavour is good enough to use them as a traditional Christmas Cake. Enjoy!♥

Easy Moist Boiled Fruit-Cake Recipe (2024)


Why is my boiled fruit cake so dry? ›

Your oven temperature was too high. Being a heavy cake it needs longer duration in the oven so a low and slow bake is preferred. Baking at high temperature would cause it to dry.

How do you keep fruitcake moist? ›

Fruitcakes are traditionally aged in a cloth wrapping of alcohol for at least five weeks. The alcohol preserves the cakes, fruits, and nuts within, and keeps everything moist.

Why is my boiled fruit cake crumbly? ›

Cakes crumble because they've dried out too much. From years of baking, I know that dry cakes happen for one of two reasons; using too much of your dry ingredients or over-baking your cake.

Why is my fruit cake not moist? ›

The ratio of wet to dry ingredients determines a cake's moisture level. If there's simply too much flour and not enough butter, a cake will taste dry. On the other hand, if there's too much milk and not enough flour, a cake will taste too wet. Finding the right balance between wet and dry ingredients is key.

What alcohol is good for fruit cake? ›

Other good choices of booze include brandy, rum, or whiskey. Feel free to use one or a mix of these to best complement your fruitcake. Once you've chosen the liquor, bake the cake, poke holes throughout the whole thing, and pour a few tablespoons of the alcohol over it. Or, you can brush the cake with the alcohol.

How long do you leave a fruit cake in the tin after cooking? ›

I upturn the tin, it helps to squash down any stickyup bits of fruit and keep the moisture in. Because of their density fruit cakes take a long time to cool down, especially the size you're making so best leave it to completely cool for a few days.

What ingredient in fruitcake makes it last so long? ›

#4: If you want your fruitcake to last even longer, preserve it with alcohol. That's right, adding alcohol to your fruitcake will not only make it taste like your favorite adult beverage, but it will greatly increase the shelf life. Alcohol acts as a food stabilizer to help delay the growth of bacteria.

Why do you soak fruitcake in alcohol? ›

Flavor Enhancement: Soaking fruits in alcohol imparts a rich, deep flavor to the fruits. The alcohol helps to infuse the fruits with its unique taste, creating a distinctive flavor profile in the fruitcake.

How long should you age fruitcake? ›

The most common duration to properly age a fruitcake is about three months. Any quicker will limit the development of complex flavors attributed to the maturing process. You can certainly age your cake for much longer than several months if you'd like, but we know how busy everyday life can be.

Should fruitcake be refrigerated? ›

For best quality, a fruit cake that is tightly wrapped with aluminum foil or saran warp can be stored for up to 1 month in a cool, dark pantry, 6 months in the refrigerator, and 12 months in a freezer. Check often for signs of spoilage, and if mold or off-odors develop, discard the cake.

At what temperature is a fruit cake cooked? ›

Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3.

Is my fruit cake moist or undercooked? ›

Rich fruit cake can be cut and eaten as soon as it's absolutely cold. It is a moist cake. However, it shouldn't be wet or sticky, if it is it is probably undercooked.

Why is fruit cake so hard? ›

The fruit in a fruitcake is often dried instead of fresh, which reduces moisture and creates this dessert's notoriously dry texture. This, along with the high sugar content, sucks up much of the water that bacteria need to survive.

How do I stop my fruit cake sinking in the middle? ›

Cake sinking after baking can be prevented by ensuring the oven is preheated correctly, using the right size of baking tin, avoiding opening the oven door too early, checking for doneness with a toothpick, and allowing the cake to cool gradually in the oven before removing it.

Is fruit cake supposed to be dry? ›

Unseasoned fruitcake tends to be dry and crumbly, while seasoned fruitcake is easier to slice and has a more developed flavour and texture. Some fruitcake recipes call for seasoning, while others do not.

Can you over cook a fruit cake? ›

Keep the heat low and monitor moisture

If you're hoping to bring back this holiday tradition, or just want a decadent treat for any other time of year, then it's important that you don't overbake your fruitcake. Otherwise, you'll be left with the same worthless clump of fruit that people dread receiving.

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