You'll Love Grandma's old fashioned Christmas Fruitcake recipes. For me, it's impossible to imagine a Christmas without fruitcake. Every fall, Mom made her Christmas cakes using one of our family's favorite recipes below. She wrapped them in several layers of brown paper and safely stored them on the top shelf in the pantry well beyond my reach — at least she thought they were. ;-)
Mom's Recipe Scrapbooks (c. 1920s)
Just consider some of the all-natural ingredients these recipes call for: fresh eggs, butter, brown sugar, currents, raisins, walnuts, almonds, mixed peel and spices. No store-bought, doorstop fruitcakes here! Cakes made using these old fashioned Christmas fruitcake recipes can't help being absolutely delicious.
And just look at these tempting serving ideas...
Here are some tips on how to make fruitcake just like Grandma's:
2 lb raisins, 2 lb currents, 1/2 lb mixed peel, 1/2 lb almonds, 1-1/4 lb brown sugar (2-1/2 cups), 2 cups butter, 1 lb flour (4 cups), 10 eggs, 2 nutmegs, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 wineglass brandy (I used fruit juice instead).
Directions for mixing:
Cream the butter and sugar, then pour in dry ingredients. Break up the eggs and mix all together well.
Bake 3-1/4 hours (or until done) in a very slow oven not more than 275°F.
Some cooks prefer to steam until none sticks to a straw, then brown in oven (best way as it burns very quick).
Note: I had a reader inquire how to steam Grandma's fruitcake. I suspect the cake was steamed similar to how one would steam a Christmas pudding, but I've never tried steaming a cake, preferring the baking method.
The best compromise would be to place a shallow pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven below the cake during baking. Remove the pan of water during the last hour to prevent the cake from becoming too moist.
1 lb dates, 1/2 lb nuts, 1 cup wine, 1 lb butter, 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon rose water, 1/4 cup molasses, 3 lb raisins, 1 lb peel (mixed), 1/2 cup black currant juice, 3/4 lb brown sugar, 7 eggs, 1 grated nutmeg, 1 teaspoon lemon, 1/2 teaspoon Ratafia, 1/2 teaspoon soda.
Prepare fruit, pour wine and black currant juice over same and leave stand overnight. Cream butter, then add eggs and beat well; then add molasses and soda beaten until light, then add flour, sprinkle fruit with flour and add, bake in tins lined with heavy brown paper buttered. Do not open oven for three hours.
Dried apples, 1 cup; molasses, 1 cup; 1 egg; sugar, 1/2 cup; milk 1/2 cup; flour 2-1/2 cups; baking powder, 1 teaspoonful. Directions: Soak the dried apples overnight, then steam until soft; then simmer them slowly in the molasses, until well cooked; when cool, add the other ingredients and bake till done. —Dr. Alvin Wood Chase, M.D., 1881.
This is an inexpensive Christmas cake to make, yet it's delicious and rich tasting.
Two cups brown sugar, 1 package seeded raisins, 1 tablespoonful of shortening, 1/2 cup molasses, 1 teaspoon ground spices, 1 teaspoon salt. Boil all in a saucepan 5 or 6 minutes. When cool add 1 teaspoon soda dissolved in a little hot water, 1 lb chopped figs or dates, 3 full cups flour. Beat well and bake in a slow oven about 1-1/2 hours. It will keep moist, in a cool place, without icing.
2 cups seedless raisins, 2 cups currents, 1/2 pound dates, 2 oz (1/2 cup) lemon peel, 1/2 pound (1 cup) cut mixed fruits, 1/2 cup whole red cherries, 3/4 cup walnut pieces, 1 cup halved almonds.
4 cups sugar
3 cups melted butter
4 cups molasses
2 cups sweet milk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons each of cinnamon, cloves, allspice
Nutmeg to taste
8 cups flour
3 pounds raisins
2 pounds currants
1 pound mixed peel
1 pound chopped nuts, or 3/4 pound chopped nuts and 1/4 pound almonds
Mix as for fruit cake and bake in slow (250°F) oven.
3/4 pound butter, 1 pound brown sugar, 2 pounds currants, 2 pounds raisins, 1 pound dates, 10 eggs (8 will do), 1/4 pound almonds, 1/4 pound walnuts, 1/2 cup molasses or rose water, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon mace, 1 teaspoon mixed spice, vanilla to suit, 3/4 teaspoon soda, 5 cups flour, 3/4 or 1 cup brandy.
Bandy may be mixed with other ingredients or poured over cake when baked. Bake in a very slow oven 3 to 4 hours. It is the best I have ever met. And everybody who has ever eaten the cake thinks it splendid.
1/3 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs or 4 yolks, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1-3/4 cups flour, 1 cup seeded raisins, 1 cup chopped dates, 1/3 cup almonds (blanched and chopped), 1/4 cup citron (sliced thin), 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon baking powder.
Mix and bake as in a Christmas cake recipe, or if you prefer the more commonly used method cream the butter and sugar. Mix a little of the flour with the fruit and add the rest alternately with the beaten eggs, and the cream in which the soda has been dissolved. Add the floured fruit last, stirring in about a third of it at a time.
If you wish to make a darker fruitcake from this recipe, add 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. If you especially like the flavor of molasses, add 1 tablespoon molasses and about 2 tablespoons more flour.
1 pound butter
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon mace
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 pounds seeded raisins
1 pound seedless raisins
2 pounds currants
1/2 pound mixed peel
1/4 pound almonds
1/4 pound walnuts
We use rather an unusual method in putting this Christmas cake together. Cut the fruit and nuts in rather large pieces — this makes a fruit laden cake look and taste richer.
Cream the butter and sugar together, then stir in the fruit and peel without flouring it, and let this mixture stand while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. We believe that when the fruit is allowed to stand in the butter in this way its flavor permeates the cake more thoroughly than when it is floured and added last.
Sift the salt and spices with the flour. Beat the eggs. Beat the soda into the sour cream and stir this into the beaten eggs. Add the nuts to the fruit and butter and stir in alternately the sifted flour and spices and the egg and cream mixture. Line baking pans with greased paper and bake in a slow oven (250°F) till done.
Mom's Recipe Scrapbooks (c. 1920s)
Ingredients: 3 egg whites, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 pound icing sugar. Put the unbeaten egg whites in a large bowl, sift in icing sugar, and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon. Add lemon juice. Beat until stiff or until it will hold its shape when cut though with a knife. More sugar may be required.
This icing is applied over a foundation such as almond paste. A pastry tube or a paper funnel may be used to apply fancy decorative trimming.
Two and one-half cups granulated sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, 1/2 cup water, 2 egg whites, 1-1/2 teaspoons pineapple. Cook together the granulated sugar and the corn syrup in 1/2 cup water till it forms a soft ball; then pour over the egg whites beaten stiff and beat till the mixture is almost cold, creamy, and will hold shape when spread. While beating add pineapple.
Can be used with or without almond paste. Any left over can be kept in a close-covered jar for further use.
Decorate with candied pineapple, red, green, and natural. Cut rings in wedge shapes and arrange in the form of a poinsettia, yellow for centers and green for leaves.
One pound ground almonds, 4 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon rose water, 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring, 1 pound icing sugar.
Method: Add yolks to almonds, then flavorings and sugar gradually, working till mixture is very smooth and stiff as dough; cut to shape of cake. Moisten cake with water and press paste to it. Either leave for twenty-four hours before icing or bake in oven till top is delicately browned. —I. R. McK.
Try this old fashioned icing tip. First, bake a sweet potato. When done, scoop out the inside and with a fork mix icing sugar into it to make a firm paste, gradually adding a few drops of almond extract for flavoring.
This makes an excellent and inexpensive almond paste foundation for a decorative icing on Christmas fruitcakes. One sweet potato will take from 1 to 2 cups of icing sugar, depending on its size.
Mom loved to make traditional English fruitcake for Christmas, and we
loved it when she did. I can still recall that old farm kitchen being
filled with the sweet, spicy aroma of her cakes baking in the oven of
the old kitchen wood stove.
She was so proud of her homemade Christmas cake. It was fruit-filled, moist, and absolutely delicious! I especially loved its thick layers of marzipan and icing. Throughout the holidays, whenever visitors came, they could never leave without first sampling a piece or two of Mom's Christmas cake.
Now, you can make same holiday cakes chock full of old time goodness and rich flavor. Experience the same Christmassy aroma in your kitchen, and give your children their own delicious memories to cherish.