Fruitcakes are essentially easy to make once the fruit is prepared. You can tell this is an old recipe as it has an ingredient not heard of today – Parisienne Essence. Parisienne essence has nothing to do with Paris or even French cooking it was a flavouring used to darken dishes and was used in gravies, fruitcakes and puddings. Leaving it out of this recipe won’t affect the finished cake as there are plenty of other ingredients to give it a good flavour.

Rich Boiled Fruit Cake - Bernice


  • 500g sultanas
  • 375g raisins
  • 125g mixed peel
  • 125g cherries
  • 60g dates
  • 60g apricots or prunes

Or use 1.25kg of mixed fruits of your choice

  • 2 level tablespoons golden syrup
  • 3 tablespoons rum or sherry
  • ¾ cup water
  • 250g butter
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 315g plain flour
  • 60g self raising flour
  • ¼ level teaspoon salt
  • 2 level teaspoons mixed spice
  • ¼ level teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ level teaspoon nutmeg
  • 60g whole blanched almonds

Place all the fruit, golden syrup, rum or sherry and water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil stirring occasionally and simmer for two minutes. Pour into a bowl, cover and allow to stand overnight. Cream butter and brown sugar well together. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift dry ingredients, then sift half over the fruit mixture. Mix lightly and then blend into the creamed mixture. Add remainder of flour and blend well. Turn into a 22cm cake tin which has been lined with brown paper and with baking paper (the original recipe says 2 layers of brown and 2 of white, while that might be a bit much you shouldn’t skimp on the paper as the cake cooks slowly and the paper stops it drying out). Top with blanched almonds. Bake at 140°C for 3½ hours or till done.

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