white fruitcake my grandmother made

White Fruitcake is What Dreams are Made Of

I have no pride and, according to some, no taste. I love fruitcake. Sickeningly sweet, loaded with pecans, cherries, pineapple, and golden raisins; heavy as a brick and about three months old. Yum!

white fruitcake my grandmother made

Undeserved reputation

For some reason, which I cannot even begin to fathom, fruitcake has acquired a somewhat dubious reputation. It’s been horribly maligned—often referred to as “disgusting!” It’s the laughing stock of the season and the subject of jokes galore, which as a fruitcake connoisseur, I find completely offensive once I can stop laughing.

Unfair criticism

Critics are legion. YouTube is packed with videos of people poking fun at fruitcake in creative ways. A town in Colorado has a yearly fruitcake flinging event.

Johnny Carson famously joked that there’s actually only one fruitcake in the world, which gets passed from household to household. Other comedians glommed onto the idea in such a big way, hating fruitcake has become a widely-accepted holiday tradition.

I can only assume that these terribly misguided people are only familiar with a version of fruitcake that is dark brown, dry-as-dust, molasses laden, overly spiced, and mystery-fruited (what is citron, anyway?). 

Trust me, they’d be singing a different tune if they’d ever tasted My Grandmother’s White Fruitcake. I think you should.


A close up of a slice of pizza on a plate, with Fruitcake
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4.50 from 8 votes

My Grandmother’s White Fruitcake

I love fruitcake. Incredibly sweet, loaded with pecans, cherries, pineapple, and golden raisins; heavy as a brick and about four weeks old. Yum! Make this right after Thanksgiving and you’ll be on track for the holidays.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time3 hours
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 40
Calories: 307kcal
Author: Mary Hunt


  • 1 pound salted butter, softened four sticks
  • 3 cups white granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 ounces lemon extract
  • ½ pound golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons pickled peach juice (See NOTE 1)
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ pound candied cherries
  • ½ pound candied pineapple
  • 4 cups pecans, chopped coarsely (see NOTE 2)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water


  • Generously grease four 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the pound of butter then line the pans with parchment paper, or brown paper cut from grocery bags.
  • In a very large mixing bowl, cream the soft butter and sugar with an electric mixer on high until fluffy (about 5 minutes).
  • Separate the eggs so the yolks are in one bowl, the whites in another.
  • Beat the egg YOLKS and lemon extract for about 2 minutes, until smooth and frothy (don’t be alarmed by the amount of extract, it’s a lot and it’s okay).
  • Add the egg yolk and lemon mixture to the large bowl mixture of butter and sugar. Continue mixing to incorporate.
  • In a separate bowl, mix fruit and nuts with half of the flour and the salt; add this to the mixture in the big bowl. Stir in with a large wooden spoon.
  • Add dissolved soda and pickled fruit juice (or your choice of substitutes see NOTE 1, then the remaining flour. Stir to incorporate. The batter will be stiff.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the beaten egg whites into the large bowl mixture with a large spoon, until well incorporated.
  • Divide between prepared pans until each is about 3/4 full. Place pans in a COLD oven set to 250 F. Bake for about 2 hours or until golden brown. Test for doneness (see NOTE 4). Do not overbake! Cool in pans on a cooling rack.
  • Once cool, remove from pan(s) and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then foil. Store in a cool place or the refrigerator for at least 4 weeks before opening, serving, enjoying. See NOTES.


Note 1
If you can't find this in the supermarket, you can make your own. Simmer the contents of a can of "peaches in heavy syrup" with 5 whole cloves, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 teaspoon vinegar for about 20 mintes. Drain, reserving the "pickled peach juice." OR substitute rum or brandy for the pickled peach juice.
Note 2
Substitute with walnuts or nuts of choice. 
Note 3 
Place a pan of water on oven rack, or on the oven floor below the baking cakes, to create a steam oven which is ideal for this recipe.
Note 4
If cake is browning too fast, place a sheet of foil the top of the cake.
Note 5
Test for doneness by placing a wooden skewer or toothpick in center of cake. If it comes out clean, cake is done. Do not over bake. 
Note 6
This fruitcake can be enjoyed right away. However, such a thing would have horrified my grandmother who insisted on wrapping the cooled fruitcakes in brandy-soaked cheesecloth or towels, then wrapping them tightly in aluminum foil to age for 3 to 4 weeks. 
Note 7
For very long-term storage, bury the liquor-soaked cake in powdered sugar and place in a tightly covered tin in a cool place. Fruitcakes can be enjoyed as long as 25 years this way provided the cloth wraps are refreshed with more booze from time to time. I cannot imagine why you would want to do this, but it’s nice to know that you can.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 307kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 158mg | Potassium: 143mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 365IU | Vitamin C: 3.5mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1.4mg
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  1. Charlie O. says:

    My mother made a fruitcake that people who said they didn’t like fruitcake said they liked. Her recipe went with her to the grave. I think that she used a pound cake batter. The fruit was candied cherries and pineapple, with twice as much pecans as fruit. There was a store in our city that sold the fruit from large metal tubs. We are watching our carbs, so I guess fruitcake is for a by-gone era. Please excuse my tears.

  2. kt says:

    5 stars
    I ADORE FRUITCAKE!!!! in fact eating a piece right now! have 8 Claxton cakes in my freezer from a few years ago, when my friends get some, they give to me…yay! my aunt used to make them for each in law in the family but she would soak them with VA whiskey and wrap in cheesecloth and foil, then put each in a tin can for giving. I couldnt wait to get hold of that, pop had to always put away until Christmas day when he made homemade egg nog from scratch, cut the fruitcake and the jellyroll. those were good ole days…miss them!

  3. Vicki Scheunemannn says:

    I love White Fruitcake! My Grandmother’s recipe is different from yours, but still great. Just enough of the candied cherries to add some color. It uses lots of apricots with figs and dates. Pineapple tidbits and juice (right from the can) instead of the peach. And then there’s the almonds and coconut. Maybe not as close to your recipe as I thought, but no alcohol and a white batter. Still called our White Fruit cake. I did half it this year, and it works great.

  4. Jerrie says:

    5 stars
    I’ve made this several times since you posted it years ago. It’s the only fruitcake I like. I took some to work and was askef for the recipe. It gets so thick while mixing I broke a wooden spoon, trying to mix it once. I wonder what it would cost to make it this year, with prices being so much higher.

  5. Becky says:

    5 stars
    I’m with you, Mary, I love fruitcake, always have! My favorite was Mother’s version of what she called BIshop’s Bread, but I liked all kinds. Which only makes me sad now, because I’m allergic to wheat! I so miss it!

    • Cheryl says:

      You may want to look into other flours out there. You could probably substitute Almond flour, or Quinoa flour, and King Arthur and a few other companies offer cup for cup replacements of flour with a mixture that is Gluten Free. Hope that helps! Happy Holidays!

  6. Pat says:

    This recipe makes me nostalgic. I used to bake 2 every year, one for my mother and one for me. We love them equally, light or dark, didn’t matter. I used apricot brandy, it was delicious. No one else in my family will eat this and it’s too much fuss for just me. This looks to be a yummy fruitcake recipe. Thanks for the memories.

  7. Pat says:

    I know you love it, but four fruitcakes for a first try seems a bit much. Can the recipe be divided by four to try it out first? Still making your italian soup to rave reviews.

  8. Deb says:

    I too love fruitcake! But I have never made one myself. The second Claxton fruitcake of the season is on my counter now. My paternal grandmother used to make fruitcake every year and pass them to the family but her recipe is lost. I may work up the nerve to try this one. Merry Christmas !!!

    • Rachel says:

      5 stars
      Don’t be afraid of this recipe, Deb — it is absolutely delicious and really simple to make. Just follow the recipe, and I bet you’ll be the one to make fruitcake every year and pass them to YOUR families, just as your grandmother did. And now, we have the Internet and social media, so *your* recipe won’t get lost!

    • Mary Hunt says:

      I have my Grandmother’s handwritten recipe, and no mention of cutting it down. I don’t know how that would work. So why don’t you make 4 loaves and give 3 as holiday gifts!

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