Our Favorite Holiday Fruitcake

Are you a fruitcake lover? Though this traditional holiday cake is often maligned (guess some people don’t like candied fruit?), prepared well it’s wonderful.

This fruitcake is our family’s favorite, packed with dates, walnuts, raisins, and glazed cherries. Think raisin bread, on steroids. The recipe comes from the wife of a family friend, Patricia, who for years sent us a loaf every Christmas.

We usually have to make at least two loaves—one to eat right away because we just can’t wait, and the other to sprinkle with brandy and save for Christmas day. These loaves also make terrific gifts.

Holiday Fruitcake

Updated from the recipe archive, first posted 2007

  • Prep: 15 minutes
  • Cook: 2 hours
  • Yield: Makes one loaf

Best to slice this fruitcake with a knife with a serrated edge, such as a bread knife.


  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped glazed cherries (can sub dried sweetened cranberries)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (divided into 1/4 cup and 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • Grated rind of one orange
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 1 to 2 ounces Brandy (optional)


1 Preheat oven, prepare loaf pan: Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with greased parchment paper or brown baking paper, cut to fit the pan.

Place one piece to run the length of the pan and stand up above the rim about an inch. Place the other piece or pieces to cover the other sides.

(When the cake comes out of the oven, you can easily remove it by holding the sides of the paper and lifting the cake out of the pan.)

2 Mix together sour cream and baking soda: In a small bowl, mix together the baking soda and sour cream; set aside.

3 Toss dates, raisins, cherries with flour: Combine the dates, raisins, cherries, and nuts with 1/4 cup of the flour and toss to coat the fruit and nuts. Set aside.

4 Beat butter and sugar, add egg, orange rind, sour cream and baking soda, add flour and salt, add fruit and nuts: Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the egg, then the orange rind, then the sour cream/baking soda mix. Add the flour and the salt and mix together. Combine fruit/nut mixture with creamed ingredients and mix well to distribute the fruit and nuts evenly.

patricia-fruitcake-1.jpg patricia-fruitcake-2.jpg

5 Pour batter into baking pan and bake: Pour batter into a prepared 5x9-inch loaf pan and bake at 325°F for one and a half to two hours or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Place a pan of water in the oven when the cake goes in. Water may need to be replenished during baking.

6 Cool on a rack: Remove to a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Use the edges of the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan. Let cool completely. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum to store. If you want, you can sprinkle on a few ounces of brandy or bourbon, especially if you would like to store the fruit cake for a while.


Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake from our Parisian chocolate expert David Lebovitz

AB's Free Range Fruitcake from Je Mange la Ville


Main Ingredients