collaboration, recipe, snack, sweet, winter

Traditional Dark Fruitcake

Fruitcake is one of those treats that is both traditional and yet constantly renewing itself, thanks to the freedom the recipe offers. Don’t like nuts? Forget ’em. Not a fan of cherries? Forget them too. A big fan of candied orange peel? Add more!

My dear friend Rebecca will guide us through a dark fruitcake recipe, describing the delicious and beautifully flavourful fruitcake recipe traditionally made by her Grandmother in her bakeshop back in England.

I can definitely vouch for this recipe: it is both crammed with yummy fruits and nuts, and flavoured beautifully with brandy. No wonder it’s a family favourite!

And as someone who normally has plain fruitcake (without the marzipan and fondant decoration), I was pleasantly surprised to discover the marzipan adds an additional level of richness that is hard to beat.

Show us how it’s done, Rebecca! 🙂


Some of my earliest and fondest memories of my Grandparents are of them in their shop in Stoke-On-Trent, England. Hands and surfaces covered in flour. I remember this fact only once I start working with one of their recipes, realizing often too late that they are created to make large quantities for the shop! This is indeed the case with this Fruit Cake recipe, so you may wish to cut the recipe in half, unless your goal is to bake them as gifts or make larger, deeper cakes. 

This recipe made two 8 x 8 round cakes, one 8 x 8 square cake, one 9 x 9 square cake and 8 mini-loaves.
“You’re gonna need a big bowl!”


For one week you will have to soak the dried fruits and cherries in sherry or bandy in a large plastic bowl. Stir once a day to ensure all the fruit have equal opportunity to get truly drunk at the bottom! 

I took a fun trip to the Bulk Barn for the ingredients. I found the Lyles Black Treacle in a specialty shop; most British shops will carry it. It is thicker than molasses and will darken the colour of the cake. 

Have fun and happy holidays!

Grandma Colclough’s Dark Fruit Cake


1 bottle of sherry, small brandy bottle 
1 lb. of Butter 
1 lb. Dark Brown Sugar
1 lb. Flour 
1 lb. Eggs (8 eggs)
1 tbsp. Mixed Spice (or All Spice – how you like)
Chopped Nuts – walnuts and/or almonds (as many, or as few as you like)
4 tbsp. Black Treacle
8 oz. Ground Almonds
1 lb. Chopped Dates
1 lb. Cherries (red and green)
4.5 lbs. of Various Dried Fruits (apricots, raisins, sultanas, currants, citrus peel – as you like) 


1. Cream butter and sugar
2. Beat eggs, add approximately 4 tablespoons at a time to butter and sugar
3. Add all fruits and nuts mixing well
4. Combine flour, salt, spices, and ground almonds
5. Mix in flour mixture with metal spoon
6. Add black treacle
Original recipe says to bake for 4 hours at 140 / Gas Mark 2. I had the oven at 280 degrees Fahrenheit and baked the cakes between 3 to 3.5 hours (2 hours for the mini-loaves). Baking times will vary with size and depth of cakes, for larger cakes bake up to 4 hours. If you feel the cakes are browning too much cover with foil for a part of the cooking.
When cakes have cooled prick with a toothpick and soak in a few tablespoons of brandy. Drizzle with brandy every week, for at least two weeks or up to one month. Cakes will moisten further over time.

Just be sure to wait a week before icing so the cake has absorbed it all. To decorate cover with warm apricot jam and layer with marzipan and icing sugar.