What is Fruit Cake?

wiseGEEK Writer

The fruit cake is a heavy cake laden with dried fruit and nuts, and redolent with sweet spices, with origins that date back to the Ancient Egyptians and the Ancient Greeks. In the Middle East, dates, and various types of nuts might have packed such a cake. In Greece, pomegranates may have provided the main fruit.

Fruit cake.
Fruit cake.

Though today, most have access to fresh fruit during the winter months, the fruit cake is still a traditional winter treat. It is generally colorful, when made commercially, as it tends to be packed with candied fruits, rather than simple dried fruits. Not everyone enjoys this cake; in fact one company sells these cakes as doorstops. Quality of ingredients can really make a difference in the popularity of the cake.

Fruit cake can be baked in a loaf form and stores better this way.
Fruit cake can be baked in a loaf form and stores better this way.

Many people shy away from the modern fruit cake because the candied fruit, and citron tends to have a somewhat bitter taste. This can be remedied by using simple dried fruit instead, which produces a more natural looking cake. Others avoid it since it is typically soaked in alcohol. It is actually, quite acceptable to use apple juice instead, which can make the cake both non-alcoholic, and child friendly.

Fruit cake rather resembles almost a candy when cut in thin slices. It is very dense, and overlarge servings will certainly pack a lot of nuts and fruit. Served in thin slices, it is somewhat similar to the Italian torrone, which can be described as a cake or nougat filled with nuts and fruit.

While one can find fruit cake in abundance online, fruit cake made at home is not difficult. Usually the cake mixture is similar to a pound cake, but has less sugar since the fruit provides plenty of sweetness. It can be made in either loaf or bunt pans. Loaf fruit cake tends to be easier to store.

Fruit cake should be made three to four weeks prior to serving or to giving as gifts. If using apple juice instead of alcohol, chefs recommend storing the cake in the refrigerator to prevent molding. A cake doused in alcohol can be stored outside the fridge, and should be covered in cheesecloth, or wrapped in several layers of wax paper and foil.

Fruit cake is often associated with the Christmas season.
Fruit cake is often associated with the Christmas season.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


My mom has a recipe for a refrigerator fruitcake that's pretty easy to make. It's not bad at all. I guess I'm one of those people who actually likes fruitcake, as long as it has more nuts than fruit. But I'll eat almost any kind of fruitcake. I guess I'm a little strange.

I also love fruitcake cookies. My aunt makes them and they are delicious. They're not nearly as much work as traditional fruitcake and I really like them. You get a lot of the things you like about fruitcake without all the effort.


I had never been a big fan of Christmas fruit cake until I tasted some homemade cake at a friends house. All the fruit cake I had tasted before had been shipped from a company that sold a lot of holiday gifts.

There was no comparison in the quality and taste of these fruit cakes. When she told me how she made it, I never realized how much time it takes for the whole process. I'm not much of a baker, so don't think I will ever attempt to make my own, but any time I get the chance to taste some homemade fruit cake I don't pass it up any more.


I came across an unbaked fruit cake recipe which I decided to try. It really turned out well and was so easy to make. After mixing all the ingredients together, I just poured it into a pan and let it age for at least a week.

The thing I like about making fruitcake for myself, is you can choose the fruits and nuts that you like best. Any recipe I find for fruitcake I will usually make modifications in the ingredients that I put in. This unbaked cake was very sweet and satisfying.


My uncle makes fruit cake every year to give away to family and friends. He puts quite a bit of time and effort into this endeavor and has to start quite early in the fall, so they are just perfect for Christmas.

Once we were visiting him in October and he already had the fruit cakes made and they were aging in brandy for flavor and as a preservative.

We do look forward to this gift every year because we know how much love he puts in to making these. It is a rich fruit cake, so is best if you only eat a little bit at a time, but this way it lasts longer too.


Anon25403, with only apple juice in the recipe, I'd make it about a week ahead and store it in the fridge, certainly. I've never made one like that, but you'd be safe doing it that way.


with the apple juice added to the cake instead of alcohol do you still make 4 weeks in advance and store in the fridge? or nearer the date can anyone that has done this advise?

Post your comments
Forgot password?