Fruitcake – It’s a Love or Hate Relationship

Fruitcake, most people either love it or hate it. This isn’t a recipe post! Just a story)))

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As the Christmas season approaches, I can’t help but think about my grandmother’s and my mother’s fruitcake recipes. The cakes were totally different in looks and taste, but both were very much a tradition in our family.

They both are passed away now, but the memories of Christmas traditions will remain with me forever……sort of like that fruitcake that you hate)))

My Grandmother’s Cake

My grandmother’s cake….I wish I had a photo to share with you. We took pictures with the Kodak Brownie back then, but they were usually reserved for pictures of people. We didn’t snap of shot of what we were having for breakfast like we do today to share on social media. The good days.

Kodak Brownie Camera

My grandmother’s fruitcake baking process started several days or probably about a week before Christmas.

Candied Fruits & Nuts

The grocery list included the basic cake ingredients, but also candied cherries….red and green, candied pineapple…red, green, and yellow…candied citron whatever that was…I really never knew. And spices…..lots of spices. Allspice and cinnamon and I’m not sure what else.

The cake had raisins……regular and yellow…and currants. Not to mention the pecans and walnuts. I haven’t even seen any currants in the grocery lately I don’t think. I never really understood the difference between raisins and currants except the currants were smaller.

If a grocery store was out of one of the candied fruits, panic would set in.

Once we kids were older, or away from home and married, she would call us at work and say “Pick me up some green cherries! I’ve got to have some green cherries! So we would go on the hunt for green cherries.

She would bake the layers in her big skillet one at a time, I think most of her cakes had two layers, sometimes three thin layers.

The icing was cooked on the stove and she would spread it between the layers and on top. It was more like a thickened glaze with grated orange rind and coconut.

More of the candied fruits and nuts were used for decoration on top. These nuts had to be nice, halved nuts. Now, you didn’t buy a bag of pecan or walnut halves, these nuts were cracked and picked out of the shell. It was something you did on Saturday night while you were watching TV maybe.

She had a glass cake plate that had a metal cover. The cake was heavy! It would sit on top of her freezer waiting patiently for the Christmas feast.

my grandmother's glass cake plate with aluminum cover

Noon Meal

We celebrated Christmas at noon on Christmas Eve. This was written in blood I reckon. Nowadays I try to be flexible when it comes to setting dates for family meals, but there was no changing this one with my grandmother!

The meal would proceed around 12:00 and once everybody had eaten their fill of turkey, ham, dressing, fruit salad, and all the trimmings…..out would come the cake….and people would just start drawing up…….

My grandmother would make sure everyone, I mean EVERYONE had a piece or just a bite of her fruitcake……there would be no rest until everyone had tasted it.

I don’t know anyone who liked it. I think it was the spice…..or maybe the grated orange peel in the icing. Or maybe it just was that we would be too stuffed from the lunch to eat anything else.

Actually, it was much more palatable several days after Christmas when the rest of the goodies were gone, and you were down to that last Christmas delicacy……..Mama’s fruitcake. (We called our grandmother “Mama.”)

My Mother’s Fruitcake

Now Mother’s fruitcake…..was a fruitcake that was altogether different. She made her fruitcake out of crushed graham crackers or vanilla wafers, pecans, raisins, and maraschino cherries…..and it was all held together with melted marshmallows or marshmallow cream. It was a no-bake style.

I made my mom’s cake last year, here’s that recipe.

What’s not to like about that cake! She would crush up the graham crackers, carefully saving the box. Everything would be dumped into a big bowl and the melted marshmallows poured over the ingredients.

She would take her hands and work this all together then pack the cake back into the graham cracker boxes that had been lined with wax paper. The cake would go in the refrigerator and she would have to run us out of the kitchen to stay out of it.

We wanted a piece of her fruitcake before it could even set up! It wasn’t like a fruitcake competition or anything……but there were always two fruitcakes for Christmas!

My mother would bring hers in unannounced, just sitting quietly over there somewhere with the food or other desserts. My mother was gracious, she compromised a lot during those holiday celebrations.

The meal was always at my grandmother’s house and when she would bring out her fruitcake everyone would admire it, take a bite, and comment on it.

Then before they left the kitchen, they would go by and pick up a piece of Mother’s no-bake fruitcake and gobble it down licking their fingers.


As we children grew older and left home….Mother would make several of her cakes and pull one out of the refrigerator for you to take home. I don’t think there was ever a bite wasted of her fruitcakes….not at our house anyway.

One year I decided to make my own no-bake fruitcake with her recipe….but I thought I had a great idea to make it a little different. My plan was to pack it into empty Pringles cans. I thought how unique this would be, and so attractive. I thought I could slice it off in neat little cake rounds…..what a nice touch.

Well…need I say more…..I wound up having to cut the cans OFF that cake….neat it was not))


Now that I’m older and have baked a few cakes myself…..I understand how my grandmother must have felt and why she wanted everyone to have a bite of her fruitcake.

That was HARD WORK and a person deserves to be appreciated for that kind of effort!

I wish I had a copy of her recipe….I would bake that cake myself…..and make EVERYONE eat it))))

Updated from a 2011 post.


  1. Hi Jeannie, the fruitcake sounds Yummy. Sure hope you make a video of the fruitcake. I think we’d all like the recipe. Ellen

    1. Hi Susan, l plan to do a post with the recipe. I made the icebox fruitcake last year and I think I’ll do it again this year. I made it by memory (as best I could), but I’ll look for her written recipe and send you a copy.

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