Mum’s Fruit Cake Recipe

This recipe, in Mother’s handwriting, was tucked into the cover of Good Hosekeeping’s Picture Cookery which was her main cookery book. It is the fourth impression, published in 1952.
Mother’s fruit cake was famous. Once, when I arrived in Lecce, in the heel of Italy, my friend’s mother eagerly anticipated the cake packed in my bag. Word of it reached New York; students from Libya tasted it and told their families. A little bit of Mother’s baking was quietly celebrated in different parts of the globe.

Fruit Cake Recipe

Fruit Cake Recipe

But I remember her using candied peel in her cake, and, I think, glacé cherries. Neither appear in this recipe. So I am not convinced it is the recipe, but maybe one she found later and liked, because again, this is her handwriting from when she was older.
When I was a child, she baked two of her fruit cakes each week; one for our household, one for my grandparents. I think I am right in saying she liked to keep the cake a week before cutting it. She always used a circular baking tin with a hole in the centre so that the slices cut easily with no crumbling in the middle.
It wasn’t my favourite. I am not a big fan of fruit cake. I preferred her chocolate sponge, and the melting moments biscuits that lived up to their name so well.
If anyone bakes this, please could you photograph the results and say how it tastes. I may have to bake it myself, and see if any Proustian memory is evoked.

20 thoughts on “Mum’s Fruit Cake Recipe

  1. I’m certainly not the queen of baking (!) but this sounds delicious. Perhaps the other fruit you remember were just variations on the theme your Mother tried out from time to time. I do that a lot – add things here and there sometimes. Thanks for sharing….there’s nothing like a REAL “home” recipe.


  2. Since your Mother was a baker, I would wonder if she used the base recipe, but added to it at each baking session. I have LOTS of recipes that I never amend in writing! <:-D

  3. I adore fruit cake and will definitely try it out when I get the chance (gardening frantically at the moment!) and I will let you know!! I don’t own a round tin with a hole, but I don’t suppose that matters. It’s lovely that you have it.
    I often wish – with regret – that I had asked my husband’s mother for her marmalade recipe before she died as it was the best I have ever tasted – but happily this year I think I have come pretty close to it (although of course, I forgot to write down what I did).

  4. We love fruit cake, CH especially. And we have the right pan.. 🙂 It’s going to have to cool off a bit here but I think CH, the baker would give it a whirl. I will show this to him when he gets up. We love to eat a slice of fruit cake with butter for breakfast in the winter. Special that you found the recipe in her writing Isobel.

  5. I sent your Mom’s recipe to my Mom. In reply she thought that this cake was something you might have at breakfast or as tea. She recalls her mother making a similar spice cake with dried fruit weekly for just such occasions.

    Is that how it worked?

    Not to be confused with the fruitcakes for the holidays which were put down with their cheesecloth and weekly en-robing with brandy or rum for weeks or months in anticipation.

      • I have been chastised by my mother for thinking that fruit cake for breakfast was odd. And in slightly off topic areas, I am now wondering how the variant spellings of Mum and Mom came about and if they are pronunciation driven and how that links to the standardization of spelling.

  6. My mother has decided to try your Mum’s recipe this weekend. Her question is about “mixed spice” – what would that contain or is it what we call “allspice” (being the outer hull of nutmeg)?

    Gads I love these trivial important details.

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