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Brandy Aged Fruitcake

Mmm…. Brandy Aged Fruitcake! Yes, I said fruitcake! Ha, ha, very funny. When you’re done with the fruitcake jokes let’s talk about this truly delicious and traditional fruitcake recipe. Ready?

a slice of brandy aged fruitcake on a glass plate

Ok, ok, one more joke and then we move on. Here’s my favorite “funny” fruitcake recipe. Read through the steps of the recipe for a good laugh.

Christmas Whiskey Cake

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups flour, sifted
1/2 t. salt
1 cup bourbon
1 pound pecans, chopped
3 cups white raisins (or use candied fruit)
1 t. nutmeg
AND
~ a very large bottle of bourbon whiskey ~

First, sample the whiskey to check for quality.
Assemble all of the ingredients. Check the whiskey again.
To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.
Repeat this step.
Turn on the electric mixer and beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
Add one teaspoon of sugar and cream until beat.
Make sure the whiskey is still okay… try another cup.
Turn off the mixer. Beat six leggs and add to the bowl, then chunk in the cup of dried flut. Mix on the tuner.
Throw in two quarts of flour. Gradually pour in the cow.
Add 2 dried anything.
If the fried druit gets struck in the beaters, pry it loose with
a drewscriver. Sample the whiskey and check it again for tonsistency.
Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Whatever.
Check the whiskey again.
Now sift the nutmeg and strain your nuts. Add one table.
And the spoon. Of whiskee. Or something. Whatever you find left.
Grease the oven.
Turn the crake pan to 350 degrees. Don’t forget to pour the oven into the batter. Throw the bowl out the window.
Lick the batter off the floor.
Bake 300 minutes at 50 degrees.
Finish the blobble of whishy and flow to bed.

a brandy aged fruitcake with no icing on a plate

Aged Fruitcake before decorating

Ok, NOW can we talk seriously about fruitcake? I know it’s got a bad reputation here in the US, but I truly love this recipe and I’m on a mission to change as many American minds about fruitcake as I can.

I get it, really. The fruitcakes that you find in the grocery and the big box stores are gross. I don’t know what the green things are in those cakes, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know. I’m not surprised so many Americans think they hate fruitcake, even if they’ve never tasted it.

I didn’t grow up eating fruitcake. But my mom is from Ireland and did grow up eating it.

The first Christmas after I graduated from pastry school she asked me if I could make a good fruitcake. I did some research and found a recipe for a traditional aged-fruitcake. It took a couple of years and a few suggestions from mom to get to this fruitcake recipe that I’ve been making for over 20 years now.

I will make one stipulation up front. The “funny” fruitcake recipe not withstanding, a real, well-aged fruitcake does have quite a bit of liquor in it.

Tips for making a traditional aged fruitcake recipe:

  • The liquor not only softens the fruit part of the fruitcake, it also softens and mellows the cake part of the fruitcake. Although I usually try to give alternative options to liquor as an ingredient, I can’t really offer a substitute for the liquor in this recipe. Sorry, it’s just too integral to the flavor of the cake.
  • As the name Brand-Aged Fruitcake, implies, this recipe needs to be made several weeks, or even several months, before you want to serve it. I usually bake my fruitcakes by mid-October so they’re well-aged by Christmas. My husband likes to say that the cake is ready if his tongue tingles a little when he takes a bite. Am I scaring you yet? No? Ok, great…
  • Since I’ll never waste an opportunity to eat marzipan, I finish my cakes with a layer of marzipan and a layer of fondant.
  • But you don’t need to decorate the cakes at all. Fruitcake can certainly be served without any icing or marzipan.

a sliced Brandy Aged Fruitcake on a glass cake stand with a slice of cake in the foreground

a slice of Brandy Aged Fruitcake on a glass plate

See how moist the cake and fruit are? It’s the brandy!

Watch the recipe video to see how to make and decorate a Brandy Aged Fruitcake.

If you love this recipe please consider giving it 5 stars.

brandy aged fruitcake

Brandy-Aged Fruitcake

Yield: 24 servings
Soaking Time: 12 hours
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 25 minutes

Traditional Aged Fruitcake with dried fruits, spice and lots of brandy. This cake should be made at least 4 weeks before serving and can be made 3-4 months ahead of time. Serve unadorned or with the marzipan and fondant to finish.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1.5 oz, 45g) almonds, coarsely ground
  • 1 cup (85g) 3 oz walnuts, chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups (12 oz, 340g) dark raisins
  • 1 1/3 cups (8 oz, 235g) light raisins
  • 1/3 cup (3 oz, 85 g) candied orange peel
  • 1/3 cup (3 oz, 85g) candied cherries
  • 1 cup (6 oz, 170g) currants
  • grated zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 2/3 cup (80 ml) brandy plus more for aging (see note)
  • 1.5 cups (7.5 oz, 210g) all purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz, 168g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz, 168g) brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

Decoration

  • 1 cup apricot preserves
  • Rum
  • 1 recipe marzipan
  • 1 recipe rolled fondant
  • Royal Icing
  • Marzipan holly and silver dragees for decoration

Instructions

  1. Combine all the nuts and dried fruits with the lemon zest and juice. Add the 2/3 cup of brandy and toss to coat the fruit and nuts with the liquor. Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 9" cake pan with a parchment round. (see note)
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon,nutmeg, ginger and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and aerated. Scrape down the bowl and the beater. Add the eggs, two at a time. Mix until combined then scrape down the bowl and the beater.
  5. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 batches and mix until combined. Fold in the soaked fruit and all the liquid.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and spread it out to an even layer. Bake until a toothpick poked in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes. As soon as the pan is removed from the oven pour 1/4 cup of brandy over the top of the cake.
  7. Cool the cake to room temperature before removing from the pan. Wrap the cake in two layers of plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature.
  8. Once a week for at least 4 weeks, unwrap the cake and generously brush on all sides with more brandy.

Finish the cake

  1. Unwrap the cake. Glue the cake to a cardboard cake circle using a dab of royal icing. Trim the cake cardboard to the same size as the cake. Place on another cardboard circle or serving plate. Ice the cake with apricot preserves.
  2. Roll the marzipan to a 14" round. Roll the marzipan onto the rolling pin then transfer and unroll onto the cake. Trim the marzipan flush with the bottom of the cake and board. Brush the marzipan with brandy.
  3. Roll the fondant to a 14" round and cover the cake over the marzipan. Trim the fondant flush with the bottom of the cake and board.
  4. Add dragees, stencils, glitter and marzipan holly or other decorations as you like.

Notes

I like this cake best made with brandy, but you can use whiskey or rum instead.

This recipe will make one 9" round cake. You can also divide the batter between two 6" pans for smaller cakes.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

marzipan rose

Marzipan

Yield: 10 portions
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Marzipan is very expensive to buy in the grocery store, and is often dry and flavorless. Homemade marzipan is cheaper than pre-made, is super easy to make and tastes much better.

Ingredients

  • 7 oz (196g) Almond Paste (see note)
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz, 56g) light corn syrup
  • 4-7 oz confectioner's sugar, about 1-2 cups

Instructions

  1. Mix the almond paste and corn syrup on low speed with a beater attachment until it forms a smooth paste. If working by hand use a wooden spoon to mix until combined.
  2. Scrape the bowl. With the mixer running on low speed add 1/2 cup of the confectioner's sugar. Turn the dough out onto a surface sprinkled with more confectioner's sugar. Knead in the remaining sugar to form a smooth dough. Add additional powdered sugar to achieve the desired consistency (see note)

Notes

I based the recipe on 7 oz of almond paste because that's the size I find in my local grocery.

I like a softer marzipan for covering cakes so I use less sugar. Add more sugar for a firmer texture if you plan to make roses or other decorations

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a cake covered with rolled fondant

Rolled Fondant

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Setting Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 30 minutes

This is a good, reliable rolled fondant recipe. I used this recipe for 10 years in my custom cake business.

Ingredients

  • 24 oz (5 cups, 685g) confectioner's sugar
  • 2 oz (1/4 cup, 60 ml) cool water
  • 1 Tbsp gelatin powder
  • 3.5 oz (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp, 95g) white corn syrup
  • .75 oz (1 Tbsp, 20g) glycerin

Instructions

  1. Sift the confectioner's sugar into a large mixing bowl or in a stand mixer bowl with the hook attachment.
  2. Put the water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin powder evenly over the surface of the water. Whisk 1-2 times to combine. Let the gelatin "bloom" for 5 minutes.
  3. Heat the gelatin in the microwave for 15 seconds to melt. Whisk the corn syrup and glycerine into the warm gelatin (see note if you want to tint the fondant). Heat another 15 seconds in the microwave to make sure everything is melted.
  4. Pour the warm gelatin mixture into the sugar all at once. If working by hand use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until most of the sugar is incorporated. If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook on medium-low until most of the sugar is incorporated.
  5. With the fondant still in the bowl, use your hands to finish kneading the rest of the sugar into the fondant. It will be quite sticky and messy at this point, just keep kneading. A plastic bowl scraper is helpful for handling the fondant.
  6. Turn the fondant out onto the plastic wrap. Wrap 2x in plastic wrap and let it set at least 8 hours or overnight before using.
  7. When ready to use, knead the fondant until it's smooth and supple. Roll on a surface dusted with powdered sugar. When not using always keep the fondant covered so it doesn't form a skin.

Notes

If you want to tint the fondant, this is a good time to add the coloring. Whisk the coloring into the warm gelatin mixture before adding it to the sugar.

You must let the fondant rest overnight before using so the gelatin has time to set. Knead the fondant into a smooth ball before rolling. If it's well wrapped and kept in an air tight container, the fondant will keep for several weeks.

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Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

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Natalie

Monday 14th of December 2020

I just wanted to say I'm glad I didn't JUMP TO RECIPE!! Thanks for the great laugh and the recipe!

Eileen Gray

Monday 14th of December 2020

Lol!

Bill

Friday 4th of December 2020

Eileen, I'm sorry I just started looking for a fruit cake recipe as I'm don't think that I can have the cake ready for Christmas. That said, your recipe is as close to what I remember about my dad's as I have found! I am from Kentucky so Bourbon was the only option (as I sip one now). He used an old cloth diaper to keep the cake moist with Bourbon! My question is, I remember my dad using loaf pans. Will your recipe make 2 loaf pans or just one? And, about how deep should the batter be in the loaf pan prior to baking.

Eileen Gray

Saturday 5th of December 2020

Hi Bill, You've got three weeks so if you make smaller cakes you could probably have them aged by Christmas. The number of loaf cakes would depend on the size of the pan. In general, fill the pans no more than 2/3 full.

Eileen

Thursday 12th of November 2020

Eileen, have you ever iced with royal icing instead of fondant? Also, after icing, should the cake still be stored in an air tight container at room temperature?

Eileen Gray

Thursday 12th of November 2020

When I worked in a British tea shop we used to ice the cakes with royal icing so you could certainly go that route. I'm just not a fan so I use fondant as thin as possible to mostly taste the marzipan. Yes, put the finished cake in a air tight container. I use Christmas tins to give away and store the cakes. Once the cake is sliced put a piece of plastic wrap over the exposed cake. If your cakes lasts longer than ours (+ a couple of weeks) you can go in and brush the cut section of the cake with a little brandy to keep it moist.

Susan Way

Saturday 17th of October 2020

Only one thing can improve this recipe: bake a double batch so there's one cake to eat now. It won't be as dense and mellow, but it's otherwise impossible for me to stop tasting tiny bits until it's gone.

Your recipe is a revelation, not just in fruitcakes but in baking in general.

Eileen Gray

Saturday 17th of October 2020

Thanks Susan, I usually make a 5x batch. I bake cakes in all different sizes and give them as gifts (yes, people DO want fruitcake).

Megha

Friday 9th of October 2020

Yeah, I meant the plastic wrap. Thank you Eileen. Going to try this.

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