Brandy or whisky in fruitcake?

This may seem a little nutty, so long after Christmas.

But, it was an interesting enough experiment that I want to mention the results here. (And I was too shattered to blog this before Christmas. Or, indeed, New Year. Or to take any pictures of it before it was eaten.)

I think brandy is traditional in fruitcakes, but we rarely have it in the house. However we always seem to have several partly-consumed bottles of whisky around the place. So we went with this walnut and whisky Christmas cake recipe from the small and useful delicious.Baking book, edited by Mitzie Wilson. This is my annotated version here. 


  • 175g raisins
  • 175g sultanas
  • 175g stoned dates, chopped
  • 150g natural glace cherries, halved
  • 100g dried pears, chopped – I’m sure they be great, but I couldn’t get them, so used dried apples instead.
  • 75g crystallised stem ginger, finely chopped
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 250 ml whisky – Yes, it’s a lot.
  • 175g dark muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 200g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup – I used maple syrup, just because we had some.
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 150g walnut halves, toasted


I made this in the usual way, soaking the fruit in the whisky overnight. The instructions said to weigh out 300g of the fruit and purée it. I did that, then beat the butter and sugar together, adding eggs, flour, the fruit purée, remaining soaked fruit, syrup, allspice and walnuts.

As in yesterday’s post, I baked this in a roasting tin, which resulted in a flatter cake with a shorter cooking time than the suggested two and a half hours. Another time, I might try to do this in a regular-sized round tin and see what the difference is.

There are also instructions for whisky butter icing, which you could do if you want it to look like the picture in the book.

I think icing fruitcake is extreme overkill though.

I wondered, with all that alcohol, if the cake would turn out soggy and heavy. In fact, the texture was okay, though a little more damp than the version of yesterday’s post, and tending to break up a bit when I cut it. Maybe this resolves itself with a maturing period (fat chance of that, in our house).

After also doing the version in yesterday’s post, I conducted some consumer research at home: whisky or brandy?

Husband and son were for the whisky version because – “I like the taste.” And, “You can’t taste the alcohol in the other one.” Daughters: one only eats cakes containing chocolate, the other thought the whisky version was “more traditional” while the brandy one was “a fun family cake”. Me: I much preferred the fragrance and texture of the brandy version; the whisky flavor in the other one seemed to overpower the fruit.

So, there you are. There’s no accounting for tastes.


3 responses

  1. Brandy for me, thank you very much! 🙂 It’s never off season for fruitcake. I made Delia’s (your famous namesake!) two weekends ago. It’s sitting in a corner maturing right now. I’ll have a peak and a piece this weekend to see how it’s coming along. 🙂

    • My last remaining bar of Aunty Kuppu’s fruitcake is still in the fridge. I’m dying to polish it off – but my son is insisting we wait until Easter to see what difference it makes. Personally, I think it’s already peaked…

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