‘Tis the Season for Fruitcake

Finished cake isn't beautiful, but it will be yummy.
Finished cake isn’t beautiful, but it will be yummy.

So this is a recipe for fruitcake. Only it isn’t what you’re thinking of. This is my Dorothy-Mom’s recipe which was handed down to her, and which I believe has it’s origins in a time when fruit and sugar were scarce. The resulting cake is sweet, so sweet, dense, rich, chewy, and absolutely does not need any sort of icing, although my First Reader assures me that the original recipe called for it. After making this last one, I mused that it would do very well infused with rum or brandy like fruitcakes once were…

And why was that? Well, it was for storage. We modern folks are completely unspoiled. I mean that literally. We have a consistently cold refrigerator to keep foodstuffs in at a chill which deters most bacterial growth (note that it does not kill, only delays. And Listeria likes it cold, but I digress). We have reliable canning. We have freezers. For heaven’s sake we have irradiation which is a miracle of modern technology that doesn’t see widespread use with a connected saving of lives and billions of lost dollars in man-hours of work because some people are ignorant luddites.

Where was I? Oh, yes, fruitcake. Nuttier than…

Fruitcake were soaked in alcohol because they are rich, sweet, and bacteria-friendly. The alcohol slowed this down somewhat. Look. Candy, chocolate, all the sweet things we adore and consume by the ton are very modern creations. Sugar was expensive once upon a time for very good reasons I’m not going to get into right now – that’s another blog post. Which I will do soon, I promise. I do love food history, as you know.

This is a fruitcake by another name, and I have made a few modifications to the original recipe.

Jam Cake Batter: most unbeautiful. Those are chopped prunes you see lurking.
Jam Cake Batter: most unbeautiful. Those are chopped prunes you see lurking.


Dorothy Wilson

  •  1 cup soft butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups jam (seedless)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts

Dredge nuts and raisins in 1/2 cup of the flour, return flour to the main supply. Cream butter and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time. Add all dry ingredients except nuts and raisins, mix well, add buttermilk, mix. Add nuts and raisins. Pour into a greased tubular cake pan and bake for 1 to 1.5 hours at 325F check for doneness with toothpick.

Cedar’s modifications:

whole spices
Cloves and Allspice

I have made this the last couple of times with prunes, because for some reason we had a lot of them. I dredge them in flour, then chop until they are about the size of raisins. I have been using one cup of nut meal rather than whole nuts. This last recipe I used whole spices that were ground just before adding to the batter and Wow! that adds a flavor punch. For jam, we have used strawberry, and this last batch was mulberry-blackberry jam I’d made earlier this year.  If you haven’t got buttermilk, add a teaspoon of lemon juice to your fresh milk.

The cake took 2 hours to bake last time I did it, and at least 90 minutes the time before that. This is not a cake you will make often, it is… heavy, moist, flavorful, and filling, which isn’t a word you’ll hear often about cake. It’s perfect for fueling up before going out to play in the snow.

(Don’t forget! Farmhand is on sale for only a dollar, and so is Pixie Noir! Perfect for gifting.)

Slice of Jamcake: so very dense and fruity.
Slice of Jamcake: so very dense and fruity.