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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19 replies
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  1. Anonymous says:

    1 star
    This ages me but was my Mothers’ Kitchen we made not only the delicious fruitcakes with Brazil nuts, Pecans, & so many others plus cut up fresh Citron along with breads in coffee cans with same fruits & mixed delicious nuts. We froze ahead & not only ate special fruitcake but these breads for not only our Christmas but gifts to family & neighbors. Memories ❤️

  2. Carole Grant says:

    5 stars
    I LOVE fruit cake and use my Grandmother’s wedding cake recipe from 1895. It contains every type of whole nut plus dried candied fruit of many types plus dates and figs. I cure in in Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry for at least a month. I make enough to last the whole year and we enjoy it immensely. Thanks for your special recipe, I may try that some time.

  3. Margaret says:

    You MUST try a Grandma’s original recipe fruitcake from Beatrice Bakery Company in Beatrice Nebraska. The original recipe is absolutely delicious….with much less work! ;0
    I love you SO much Mary…that I would be willing to SHARE some of my fruitcake with you!
    (and I do NOT share these with just anyone…..!!) 😉
    Hope you’ll try one soon ~

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