I have never tasted fruitcake, yet I have laughed at all the fruitcake jokes I have seen over the years. As I look at all the Christmas catalogues I’m already getting in the mail, however, I’m looking at them. I like fruit, I like nuts, and I love cake. So what’s the scoop on fruitcake? Good? Bad? Should I try some?

A well made fruitcake is delicious.

One that isn’t well made will make you want to lick the inside of a sewer pipe to get rid of the taste. I haven’t tried a fruitcake from a catalog, but all the store bought ones I’ve tried have been nasty. If you’re any kind of cook, I’d suggest using this recipe. It’s the one I use when I want fruitcake.

Homemade fruitcake, or from a really good bakery - that’s good stuff.

The jokes came around, I think, from the pre-packaged grocery store/department store type stuff that’s wrapped in plastic and comes in a decorative tin. That stuff is horrid. It’s tinned cake, which is nasty enough, but the fruit tends to be more - jellied - than nice dried fruit. It’s just gross, and being wrapped in plastic, doesn’t tend to get moldy or seem to go outwardly “bad”. Hence the joke about everyone passing the same one around every year.

If you can get your hands on some freshly baked from a good bakery kind of stuff, it’s delicious. Also expensive and sometimes hard to find.

Alton Brown’s Free-Range Fruitcake recipe is heavenly. I’ve yet to find a fruitcake-hater who still hated fruitcake after trying it.

I have in my refrigerator a few slices of fruitcake made by the monks here. It is amazing - I’ve never tasted anything like it. Gooey and sweet and drenched in various liquors. Highly recommended.

A good fruitcake is essentially just a dense, moist spice cake full of nuts and dried fruit, soaked in rum or other dark liquors. How could that be bad?

But add my voice to those who say to stay far, far away from the tinned/catalog version. Not the same beast at all.

One complaint that I have about even good fruitcake is that usually there is just enough cake to hold all the fruit and nuts together. I like more cake in my fruitcake. Maybe I’m just crazy that way but it is why I bake my own. Like Drain Bead, I use Alton Browns recipe but I decrease the fruit/nut mix by half.

It depends on how you feel about candied fruit, as that’s what most of them are made of.

Moving from IMHO to the foodier Cafe Society.


The only fruitcake I ever ate and didn’t want to spit out was an “Icebox Fruitcake” that Mama made from some recipe she found in a woman’s magazine of the era (50’s let’s say). It was a lot like the date-nut roll concoctions that were a cross between candy, cookies and cake. I don’t remember why or when she quit making them. Probably too much hassle.

Grandmama was a fabulous cook otherwise, but her fruitcakes were worse than those Claxton (or the like) things you probably can still get mail order or in specialty places. That citron or candied fruit they use in them is disgusting to me. And the “cake” is like cardboard or styrofoam.

I forget whose joke it was but whoever it was said there’s only one fruitcake and it gets passed along to somebody else each year.

The only way I’ll even consider eating fruitcake nowadays is with a huge dollop of ice cream or a huge pile of whipped cream on top of it. Even then it’s normally vile.

[Holiday Lament (Fruitcake Song]](

It’s no wonder that our name has come to mean someone who’s nuts.

Another vote for AB’s Free-Range Fruitcake.

Its only fault is that real dried fruit can add up in a hurry, so it’s not an inexpensive thing to make.

The Colin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas, makes very good fruitcake. The fruits they use do not include “citron.” The main ingredient is Texas Pecans!

I like fruitcake but am allergic to pecans, so can’t eat most commercial versions, plus I avoid alcohol (and brandy makes me sick, though I can tolerate bourbon in small amounts). So I use my uncle’s recipe which has neither and produces a nice golden cake with lots of fruit. I like lots of cherries and pineapple!

me: “Hi. My name is Mama Zappa, and I like fruitcake made with candied fruit”

everyone: “Hi, Mama Zappa”…

OK, I’d probably be delighted with fruitcake made with regular dried fruit also… but I’ve always liked candied fruit.

The thing I hate, however, is fruitcake made with a lot of nuts. I will pick them out and throw them away, which is a waste of perfectly good pecans/walnuts/whatever.

I finally found online a recipe that explicitly excludes nuts, but calls for candied fruits (among other things; there are raisins and currants, IIRC). You soak the fruit in liquor before even beginning, and wind up with this concoction that is plumped up, not excessively sweet, and has just a small amount of potent sweet syrup in the bottom of the bowl.

Then you bake the cake (which takes a while!) and then you doctor the baked cake up with more llquor… turning a bland and slightly dry but pleasant spice cake into a rich, moist, flavorful YUMMMMMMMM.

I was not able to make any last winter and really regretted it (too busy, then sick…). Maybe I’ll start it in early November this year :).

The Claxton stuff and its ilk?


I have only once in my life found a purchased fruitcake that I liked, that had no nuts, and that was nearly 30 years ago. So it’s homemade or nothing.

Yup. I rather dislike candied fruit. Without it, fruitcake would be just dandy.

I can’t stand candied fruit, in fruitcake or anything else (the holiday tradition in my family is stollen, which is basically bread with candied fruit in it). It tastes like kerosene, to me. Fruitcake made with non-candied fruit, though, is just fine.

Can someone be ‘fruity as a nutcake’?

I like fruitcake, even if it’s not the best. But I’m too cheap to buy one for myself, and the alleged ‘tradition’ of sending fruitcakes as gifts seems to be a myth.

Maybe I’ll break down and try one of those monk-y fruitcakes this year.

Well, I’m not ashamed to admit that I love most fruitcakes, even with candied fruit. If someone passes along to you one of those 10-year-old bricks, send it on over to me. Although I do prefer the heavenly monk ones.

I’d bet those bricks could be made edible if you simply rehydrated them with a solution of ethanol, water and flavorings (i.e. brandy or whatever) :). Seriously… I wonder if unwrapping them, spritzing them, and rewrapping them in parchment, and repeating this every couple of days for a few weeks wouldn’t turn them from YUCK into YUM.