This white fruitcake recipe is topped with a layer of marzipan and then covered in a brandy frosting. It's our favourite Christmas cake to serve around the holidays and one of the best recipes we've tried.
Growing up, my mom would make fruitcake from my grandmother's recipe every Christmas season. I think most years, we all pretty much rejected the fruitcake in favour of chocolate treats and Egyptian shortbread cookies. Regardless, my mom kept up the tradition of baking her mom's fruitcake every Christmas, along with plum pudding served on Christmas day.
As a teen, I eventually warmed up to fruitcake and plum pudding, and now I look forward to these every winter season. When mid-November hits, I consistently ask my mom if she's made the plum pudding yet, not that she ever needs a reminder.
Fruitcake gets made in December in our house, and it's nothing like those heavy, dense bricks of fruitcake sold in grocery stores and on-line. Commercial fruitcake is unappetizing. They are hardly even cake because they are so full of fruit, and not just any fruit, very sweet candied fruit.
My grandmother insisted on baking "cake with a little fruit" when she baked fruitcake, and not "fruits with a little cake". Her recipe is not weighed down with cloyingly sweet candied fruits. Instead, hers is a lovely white cake, flavored with almond extract and with a few colorful candied fruits that poke through the cake in some spots.
This fruitcake recipe features mainly raisins (we like to use golden raisins, but my grandmother's recipe actually calls for sultanas), plumped with boiling water and patted dry. Of course, a little of the usual citron, diced candied pineapple, and colorful green and red cherries are added (this is Christmas fruitcake after all!), but in just the right amount.
My grandmother's fruitcake recipe is definitely "cake with a little fruit" and I think it could probably convert all those fruitcake-haters into fruitcake-lovers. Sure, the thin layer of marzipan and brandy frosting might help convince you that this is an amazing fruitcake recipe, but honestly, the cake is delicious, ungarnished with a cup of tea.
How long does it take to bake fruitcake in the oven?
For this post, rather than make one giant fruitcake, I baked the recipe in individual ramekins, so I could share them with friends. I also baked them at a lower temperature (325°F instead of 350°F) for longer to make them slightly moister. It's also better to bake fruitcakes at lower temperatures to prevent the fruit from burning. In general, the baking time will have to be adjusted according to the pans you choose to bake this recipe in. Here's a rough idea of how long it takes to bake this fruitcake recipe:
- Fruitcake loaves: split batter between TWO greased and floured loaf pans and bake for about 1 hour 30 minutes
- Individual fruitcakes: divide batter in greased and floured ramekins and bake for about 50 minutes
- Sheet cake fruitcake: spread batter in greased and floured 9x13 pan and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes
- Tube pan fruitcake: spread half the batter in a greased and floured tube pan (bake the rest in a loaf pan or muffin tin) and then bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes
- Cupcake fruitcakes: divide batter in greased and floured muffin pans and start checking with a cake tester after about 30 minutes.
White fruitcake with marzipan and brandy frosting
It's not Christmas without this recipe, and I really hope you'll give fruitcake one more chance! After the holidays are over, if you find yourself with leftover fruitcake, remember you can make these boozy Christmas cake balls! They are so good and I suspect a lot of people like them more than the cake itself.
White fruitcake with brandy frosting and marzipan
For the fruitcake
- 1 pound golden raisins, or sultana raisins, 454 grams, soaked in 2 cups boiling water, drained and patted dry
- ¼ lb candied citron, 113 grams
- ½ lb glacéed cherries, 230 grams, green and red, quartered
- ¼ lb candied pineapple, 113 grams, diced
- 4 cups bleached all-purpose flour, 600 grams
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, 345 grams, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar, 420 grams
- 4 large egg(s)
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 cup whole milk (3.25 % fat), 250 mL, I used 1% fat milk
For the frosting and garnish
- ½ cup unsalted butter, 115 grams, room temperature
- 2 tablespoon brandy
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups icing sugar, 280 grams, plus more for rolling out the marzipan
- 500 grams marzipan, for two loaf cakes, you will only need as little as 200 grams marzipan to cover the tops
- ~5 glacéed cherries, red and/or green, optional for decorating
To make the fruitcakes
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour two muffin pans (24 muffins total). Alternatively, you can use two 9x5 loaf pans (greased and floured, and lined with a piece of parchment fitted at the bottom).
- In a large bowl, stir together the rehydrated raisins and candied fruits. Add about ½ cup (or more) of the 4 cups flour and stir so that all the fruits are coated with flour.
- Whisk the baking powder into the rest of the flour. Set the dry ingredients aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition.
- Add the almond extract and mix again.
- Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
- When the flour is completely incorporated add the flour-coated fruits and mix on low til they are evenly dispersed throughout the batter.
- Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake them for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester poked through the center of the batter (not through the fruit) comes out clean. For loaf cakes, they will take 1.5 hours to bake.
- Let them cool completely before unmolding.
To make the frosting and marzipan
- Prepare the frosting by beating together the butter, brandy, vanilla and powdered sugar until it is nice and smooth. Add as much powdered sugar as needed to obtain the desired consistency.
- Roll out the marzipan using powdered sugar until it is ¼ cm (~0.1 inches) thick. Cut with round cookie cutter so that just the tops of the fruitcakes are covered with a thin layer of marzipan.
- Top each fruitcake with a marzipan circle glued down with a small dollop of frosting.
- Top with a smear of frosting and garnish with a sliver of glacéed cherry.
awe, those look so cute! I had no idea grandma had a recipe for fruitcake! Looks much better than the dark bricks you see everywhere
What beautiful little cakes! It's always nice to see people keep the family traditions and in some cases - improve on them. This does look like a very tasty and lighter fruit cake! My mother made the bricks but then she would soak them in brandy for 2 weeks which made the taste amazing, but I would still just cut it up into bite size pieces to serve. It was more like candy than cake. 🙂
mayssam @ Will Travel for Food says
This is not your average fruitcake is it? It looks delicious!
While I like fruitcake, I feel that those deep dark ones do not make for a very good presentation. Your white fruitcake is stunning and I love that you did individual servings. The addition of the marzipan icing also makes these extra special. So glad you posted this-buzz buzz!
It's wonderful that you're working to keep your traditions alive. The fruitcake looks great.
Your fruit cake is really beautiful,we used to see a dark cake version, son having this "white" ones is wonderful.
I am so into your light colored fruitcakes...The color is refreshing. I want to try this out. Real soon. Thanks for the great post!
Melissa // thefauxmartha says
This looks like a perfect fruit cake! I'd definitely give it another try.
Patricia Scarpin says
These are lovely! Very Christmassy.
Kiri W. says
Very interesting - I usually don't like fruit cake, but I am addicted to marzipan - maybe this would solve my crisis! 😉 Gorgeous presentation, too!
Deeps @ Naughty Curry says
brandy frosting sounds devine! gotta try this 🙂
J Lee says
Hi - I want to try this as just one large cake. What type of pan(s) do you use and what is the temp and time? Thanks--looking forward to making this cake this year.
My mom has baked this cake in a couple loaf cake pans successfully at 325ºF, or even in a tube pan (like for Angel Food cake), but unfortunately neither one of us can remember for how long, so I couldn't say. We are thinking they take about an hour in these pans. Honestly the best way to tell if they are one is to look for signs of the cake separating from the pan sides cleanly and also a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean (but this can be difficult because of the candied fruits so be careful where you poke). I hope that helps somewhat. I really hope you get to try this recipe! And if you do, let me know how it turns out 🙂
Linda Reid says
I make the traditional dark fruitcake that is loaded with fruit and held together with cake. Marzipan and royal icing go on top. Your grandmother's little cake things are cute but there is no need to insult the traditional cake. There are a lot of people that like it. Why do you think it's been around for so many years?
Hi Linda! Thanks for taking the time to visit my site and leave a comment!
I'm sorry you were offended by what I wrote, but I did refer to "commercial fruitcake", and not your recipe. I'd much rather a homemade fruitcake any day than some mass-produced cake made in a factory. Perhaps that's just me. In any case, I really hope you give my grandmother's "little cake things" a try. Merry Christmas!
Hi there! Just want to let you know that I made your grandmother's fruit cake two weeks ago and it was a success. I did approach the baking with uncertainty because my kids do not like fruitcake at all, myself included. But your cakes look so pretty that I really wanted to try baking it. The catch was selling it to my girls, because it is such a large cake that I would require help finishing it. I managed to persuade them to giving the fruitcake a chance and the fact that it was not a dark fruitcake helps. Anyway, I cooked the raisins in half water and half white wine ( in the hope that it would keep longer should the kids back out of helping me to finish the cake, and I could just eat it more slowly on my own- it's a really big cake!). I also baked it in a 13 by 9 inch pan at 325F for 1 hour 20 minutes. As for the frosting, since I was not in possession of any brandy (and I did not want to buy, not really knowing how it will turn out with the kids), I used vodka infused with vanilla beans which I had just soaked three days ago to make vanilla. Well, the cake turned out really awesome and the kids and hubby loved it. Between the four of us, we took just under a week to finish the whole cake, crumbs included. Thank you for the recipe; the kids have requested for the fruitcake again and I will be making it again soon. I have all the ingredients already sitting in the pantry and now I only need to find the time. Thank you again for the recipe.
These look delicious and they`re very pretty too. I do not have that many ramekins. Can you give the cooking times and pan dimensions if we want to make a `big`cake?- thanks!
Hi Terrie! My mom and I had a long discussion about the baking time. Her mother used to bake this recipe, split between a tube pan and a loaf pan, and my mom is pretty sure it took an hour. She says that one year, she tried to put all the batter in just one tube pan (no loaf pan) and then it took forever in the oven and still wasn't properly cooked after all. So, definitely split it between a couple pans.
Last year, I think I used muffin tins to make the fruitcake, but I can't remember how long I baked them for in a muffin pan. I'll try again this Christmas and follow up when I have something more exact. I'm sorry. I should have written it down because, I agree, 20 ramekins isn't ideal for anybody! Sharon left a comment above to say she baked this recipe in a 9x13 and it took 1 hour 20 minutes.
You can use a cake tester to check the doneness, but try not to poke through a fruit (not easy). I hope this helps! If you try the recipe, let me know how it turns out 🙂
My mom baked the fruitcake recipe in two loaf pans, and she left them for a good hour and a half (1.5h) at 325ºF. Hope that helps!
Hi there, just finished baking 24 mini cakes and two mini loaf pans as well with this batter. The all look amazing and taste very good. The brandy buttercream is also done. `i have to say that a cut a bit on the powder sugar cause `i felt it was sweet enough with less. Tomorrow `i will tie a red ribbon around them and serve them with tea in the afternoon. My Christmas is a big hit already. Thanks for sharing this recipe. cheers Kathleen from Holland!
Wynne Armstrong says
Looks like a lovely fruitcake. Where do you purchase your marzipan and is it difficult to roll out?