Rich Walnut Fruitcake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This fruitcake recipe has been in my family for many years. My Mom, Dorothy, would make this fruitcake about 2 months before Christmas so there was ample time to age the cakes with lots of rum. For fruitcake lovers, this holiday cake is rich, full of fruit and nuts, and fabulous. The only change I’ve made to the original recipe is using unsalted butter in place of vegetable shortening in the cake batter.

My beautiful Mother is gone now, however the year she passed, 2015, I made about 20 of these delicious fruitcakes to give to our family and friends at Christmas as a special tribute to my Mom and her love of making homemade treats for those she loved. It took a bit of time, and of course an abundance of fruitcake ingredients, but I thought of her and remembered being a young girl assisting my Mom as she made these holiday fruitcakes with every batch of cakes that went into my oven.
Recipe type: Dessert | Fruitcake
Serves: 2 cakes
Vegetable shortening, brown paper, and parchment paper for preparing pans
Cake Batter:
  • 1 cup dark raisins
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons Rum, preferably dark Rum (or substitute bourbon or brandy
  • 2 cups toasted walnuts, broken by hand into about ¼ inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons salted butter
  • 2 cups pitted dates, coarsely chopped, preferably Medjool dates, takes about 25 dates
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound mixed candied glace fruit mix
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup honey, preferably clover honey
  • 4 large eggs
Decorate (optional):
  • Red or Green candied glace cherries
Storing and Aging:
  • Rum, preferably dark Rum (or you may substitute bourbon or brandy)
  • Cheesecloth
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Heavy Duty Foil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 9x5x2¾ inch loaf pans; lightly grease the pans to hold the paper in place , and then line with 2 layers of brown paper and then 1 layer of parchment paper, greasing between each layer, and greasing the top parchment paper layer. The papers should extend 1 to 2 inches over the sides of the pans. Tip: I use brown Postal Wrapping Paper that comes in a roll. A cut up brown paper grocery bag also works well.
Cake Batter:
  1. Rinse dark raisins and golden raisins in cold water and drain to remove most, but not all of the water. Place raisins and rum in a covered dish and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Tip: this step steams the raisins so they are plumped. Set aside to cool.
  2. Spread broken walnuts in a jelly roll pan, dot with the 2 teaspoons salted butter. Place in oven to toast for 5 minutes then remove from oven and stir walnuts with a rubber spatula to coat all the walnut pieces evenly with the butter, and then return to the oven for about 5 minutes more to finish toasting. The walnuts should be just lightly toasted; be careful not to over-toast or burn the walnuts. Remove from oven. Set aside to cool. Tip: I like to use salted butter instead of unsalted butter when toasting the walnuts to give them extra flavor.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F. for baking the cakes.
  4. Coarsely cut the dates to about ¼ inch pieces; sprinkle the cut dates with 1 tablespoon flour to keep the dates from sticking together. Set aside. Tip: I use kitchen scissors to snip the dates into pieces, this works easier then chopping with a knife. Since the dates get sticky, I add the 1 tablespoon of flour into a bowl and snip the dates into the flour and stir to coat the dates to help cut down on the stickiness.
  5. In a very large mixing bowl, combine cooled raisins and rum, cooled toasted walnuts, cut dates with flour, and candied glace fruit mix. Sift one cup flour over the fruit and nut mixture; Stir well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to coat all the pieces with flour to keep from sticking together. Set aside.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl, add remaining 1½ cups flour, baking powder, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
  7. In a small bowl combine the orange juice and lemon juice. Set aside.
  8. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
  9. Add the honey and beat until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed. The batter may be curdled but this will be corrected when the flour is added.
  10. With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the juice mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and juice mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
  11. Pour batter over floured fruit and nut mixture; stir well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, making sure to stir down into the bottom of the fruit and nut mixture, until batter is thoroughly distributed.
  12. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, dividing the batter evenly between the two pans, and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Tip: I use a food scale to weigh the pans after filling to ensure the same amount of batter in each pan so that the cakes will bake evenly.
  13. Decorate (optional): Place about 5 or 6 candied cherries on the top of each cake and gently press each cherry down into the batter so just the top half of each cherry is visible.
  14. Bake: Place a shallow baking pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven. Place fruitcakes on middle rack and bake 3 to 4 hours or until no imprint remains when cake top is touched or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out almost clean, there may be just a few moist crumbs that cling to the toothpick. Tip: I normally bake these somewhere between 3 ½ to 4 hours, but start checking the cakes at 3 hours. Remove from oven and cool completely in pans on a wire cooling rack. When cool, remove from pans, remove paper and discard.
Storing and Aging:
  1. Fruitcake may be eaten immediately after it is baked and cooled; however most fruitcakes are best when allowed to age at least 1 to 2 months or longer.
  2. When the cakes are completely cool, use a pastry brush to brush the tops and sides with rum, and then wrap each cake is a large piece of cheesecloth (approximately 18 inches x 24 inches) that has been soaked in rum. You will need about ¼ cup rum for each cake. Tip: for each cake, place the ¼ cup rum in a small bowl and place the cheesecloth in the bowl to thoroughly soak the cloth. Use a pastry brush to brush excess rum from the bowl onto the top and sides of the cake, then wrap the cake in the soaked cheesecloth. Pour any leftover rum from the bowl over the top of the cake. Repeat for second cake.
  3. Wrap each cheesecloth covered cake tightly in plastic wrap, then wrap tightly with heavy-duty foil. Store in a cool dark place.
  4. Remoisten each cake with about 2 tablespoons rum after 2 days, and again after 2 weeks. Tip: carefully unwrap the foil and plastic wrap, but leave the cheesecloth intact around the cake. Use a pastry brush to brush each cake with 2 tablespoons of rum over the top and sides. Rewrap the plastic wrap and foil tightly around each cake and return to storage in a cool dark place.
  5. Recheck the cakes again for moistness every 3 to 4 weeks and remoisten with rum if needed.
  6. Fruitcake stored they way will keep several months.
Recipe Notes
Pan: Two 9x5x2¾ inch loaf pans Pan Prep: Greased, lined with brown paper and parchment paper, greased between each layer Starting Oven Temp: 350° Cake Oven Temp: 250° Yield: 2 Cakes Storage: Rum soaked cheesecloth, tightly wrapped, cool dark place for several months

Help: Cake Hints and Tips, Toasting Nuts and Seeds

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