A close up of a slice of pizza on a plate, with Fruitcake

White Fruitcake that 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 four weeks old. Yum.

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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, which as a fruitcake connoisseur, I find completely offensive.

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.

Enjoy!

A close up of a slice of pizza on a plate, with Fruitcake
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5 from 1 vote

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 hr
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time3 hrs
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 40
Calories: 307kcal

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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 up to 4 weeks. See NOTE 3.

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 a few 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.

Nutrition

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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16 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. Pat Weiser says:

    I absolutely agree, I love fruitcake too! And thank you for this recipe. I used to make them years ago, both regular and white, but lost my recipes in a move. I will be the only one eating this, so will be cutting the recipe down to one quarter. Keeping my fingers crossed it works!

    Reply
  2. Patricia Roy says:

    I’m with you too. But my love of fruitcake is new. Someone suggested toasting it. OMG! Do that, and eat it warm with butter or softened cream cheese….YUM! Oh, and hold the rum. Cheers!

    Reply
  3. Janie Payne says:

    Mary, Can you tell me how to split the recipe down to make one or two? Can I just halve the recipe, do you know? I would like to try it but don’t have 3 others to share with…..

    Reply
    • Pat Weiser says:

      Janie, I want to do that as well. We should be able to approximate the right quantities, don’t you think? Although it would be hard to split 6 eggs into quarters….

      Reply
  4. Kay says:

    Great, except I think there’s an error: for Serving, it says 1 g–if that’s 1 gram, that’s a mighty small serving! What did you really mean, Mary?

    Reply
  5. Sharon Deters says:

    Can this be cut down to make a smaller amount, I would hate to use all these ingredients only to find out my family won’t eat it. I make one based on a WW2 recipe for boiled raisin cake and just add fruit my family likes.

    Reply
  6. Julie Finnegan says:

    I have been making YOUR fruitcake recipe for probably the last five years and my family LOVES IT TO DEATH! It is the BEST, BEST, BEST! So glad you shared your recipe with us years ago. Thanks, Mary! (ps – I make a half batch at a time, because the full batch is a little difficult for my mixer to handle)

    Reply
  7. Barbara says:

    40+ years ago I was dating my husband to be and I bought a Woman’s Day magazine that featured a light fruitcake on its cover. It could be baked in small loaves for gifts. My husband loved it (and proposed to me) but I lost the recipe! I even wrote Woman’s Day but never did get the recipe. I think the recipe you posted is about as close as I will get so I am going to make it. My husband is having major surgery in a week as he is very ill. He WILL be home for Christmas and the white fruitcake will be waiting for him. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving from Canada.

    Reply
  8. joanne says:

    That’s a lovely fruitcake with fruit and nuts that look like jewels and confetti. I make a dark, boozy one wherein you soak the dried fruit for 2 hours in rum or brandy. Eat right away or pour a bit more alcohol over the top, cover tightly and enjoy a slice the next morning. Yes, morning! Comfort and joy to you. Thank you Mary

    Reply
  9. Karen Neathawk says:

    Thank you, Mary, for your kind comments in support of fruitcake! I agree — the dark spice variety does nothing for me, but I grew up on “light fruitcake” and even asked my mother to make it for my January birthday. I like to reply to the sneers with, “Oh, but you haven’t tried mine.” The best part is that I have my mother’s well-buttered and splattered hand-written recipe!

    Reply
  10. Shirley Coleman says:

    I am with you. I love fruitcake and have never understood why it gets so many bad comments. I will try this recipe. It sounds wonderful.

    Reply
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