Family Recipes: Val’s Boiled Fruit Cake | HerCanberra

Everything you need to know about canberra. ONE DESTINATION.

Family Recipes: Val’s Boiled Fruit Cake

Posted on

They’re the recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, handwritten on batter-splattered and well-worn pages.

These are the recipes we treasure, and now we’re sharing them with you to bring a piece of history to your kitchen.

Emma Macdonald: Val’s Boiled Fruit Cake

There is simply no other smell that connects me to the happiness of my childhood than my mum’s Christmas cake.

It would take a couple of days to create it from start to finish, as the house filled with the most exquisite aroma of mixed peel, butter, and the odd waft of brandy.

It meant Christmas was on its way, and—once baked—the cake would be lovingly served to friends and family on the big day and long summer holidays that followed.

Often it lasted weeks. But more often than not it would be devoured to the very last crumb before January even began.


  • 125g butter cut into pieces
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 – 1.5 kilos mixed fruit
  • 1 – 2 pieces glaze pineapple
  • 1 – 2 pieces peach and/or apricot
  • 1 packet red glace cherries
  • 1 packet green glace cherries
  • ½ packet whole blanched almonds
  • ½ packet hazelnuts
  • ½ packet brazil nuts
  • 1 – 1 ½ cup plain flour
  • 1 – 1 ½ cup of self-raising flour
  • 1 – 2 packets blanched almonds


The night before baking, place all the ingredients in a Le Creuset pot or very large pot and stir and boil for several minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool for a little. Add a good dash of brandy or sherry or rum and leave to stand overnight.

The following day, add 1 cup of each flour first. Then add extra as it needs to be pretty hard to stir with wooden spoon.

Brush the inside and base of a freeform cake tin with liberal butter. Cut greaseproof paper for sides and base and press in place.

Place mixture in tin and press down all over top to make flat. Empty 1-2 packets of blanched almonds and select the large plump ones to go all over the surface of the cake.

Place foil over the top of the cake tin and bake at 180°C (350°F) (160°C non-fan-forced) for about 2 hours. Then remove the foil and bake for another hour.

Keep checking top and make sure the nuts do not brown or burn too much. Keep checking with a skewer—when it comes out dry to the fingertips—the cake is ready.

STYLING Belinda Neame


This article originally appeared in Magazine: Time (AW2020), available to read free online.

Read it here.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

© 2021 HerCanberra. All rights reserved. Legal.
Site by Coordinate.