Old Fashioned Spiced Boiled Fruit Cake

Spiced boiled fruit cake

This old fashioned alcohol free Spiced Boiled fruit cake recipe is lightly spiced and filled with dried and candied fruits and nuts. It is a rich dark moist fruit cake recipe that is delicious for afternoon tea or served with custard for dessert.

Have you ever wondered how to make fruit cake at home from scratch, but felt overwhelmed by the thought of it? How many times have you eaten dry or tasteless fruit cakes and wished for a moist fruit cake that was lightly spiced and had a tender crumb?

I must confess that growing up the traditional fruit cake recipe was my least favorite of all cakes to eat at any time of the year. I usually passed it along to my mother if we received it as wedding favors, or if it was served at Eid or Christmas festive afternoon teas.

The two versions I was most familiar with were my Aunty Gadija’s Light Fruit cake recipe without alcohol and another Aunty Gadija’s traditional loaf fruit cake recipe without alcohol. I loved the blonde version but more often than not had to choke down any other fruit cakes.

Spiced boiled fruit cake

If memory serves me, this boiled fruit cake recipe was passed to my mother from an old family friend. The first time I tasted this moist boiled fruit cake recipe was on a vacation to the Wild Coast with my mum, her friend Aunty Joan and my cousin. The vacation was Aunty Joan’s gift to me for passing my senior year at high school. 🙂

Aunty Joan normally baked her rich fruit cake recipe for her friends at Christmas and had brought along half of the extra one for our snack time. The taste was delicious but the texture was a bit dry.

We received a boiled fruit cake from Aunty Joan again for Eid that same year, but again it was really dry and crumbly. Not the type of cake you could serve with tea, but definitely perfect for dessert with lovely homemade custard.

Spiced boiled fruit cake

One day during a random conversation about baking, my mother finally plucked up the courage to ask Aunty Joan how she made the fruit cake. She didn’t want to hurt her feelings by telling her the fruit cake was very dry and best eaten with custard. Aunty Joan explained her method in detail and then we realized what the problem was.

Aunty Joan’s oven was faulty so she never knew whether the cakes were cooked through. After about 45 minutes of baking she would remove the cake from the oven, cut it in two, then continue baking until she thought it was fully cooked.

When they made exactly the same recipe at our house and baked it in our oven, it turned out completely differently. It had morphed from a dry fruity tinder block to the best fruit cake recipe and a moist, tender spiced confection. My mother adapted the original easy fruit cake recipe slightly by adding glaced (candied) and dried fruits as well as nuts. I adapted it further by adding mixed citrus peel and using less sugar and oil.

Top tips for making Spiced Boiled fruit cake at home

  • Cook the fruit mixture the night before you want to bake the cake and allow it cool completely.
  • If you are in a hot climate you can refrigerate the mixture after it cools but allow it to come back to room temperature before adding the other ingredients.
  • Line the cake tins with parchment paper but do not grease it as there is sufficient butter in the batter.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the tin for at least 30-45 minutes before removing it. I always use a springform cake tin as it ensures that I don’t accidentally drop the cake or break it when trying to flip it out onto a cooling rack.

Old Fashioned Spiced Boiled Fruit Cake

If you don’t like a traditional old fashioned fruit cake recipe why not try one of our other recipes for afternoon tea?

Spiced boiled fruit cake

Old Fashioned Spiced Boiled fruit cake

Razena Schroeder
This old fashioned alcohol free spiced boiled fruit cake is a moist, dark rich fruit cake recipe that is delicious for afternoon tea or served with custard for dessert.
4.84 from 24 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cooling time 8 hours
Total Time 9 hours 45 minutes
Course Cakes, Tea time treats
Cuisine South African
Servings 24
Calories 472 kcal


  • 500 grams butter lightly salted
  • 320 grams sugar fine granulated, approximately 375 ml or 1 1/2 cups
  • 500 grams dried fruit mix
  • 60 ml mixed citrus peel
  • 200 grams whole glace cherries divided (approximately 250 ml or 1 cup)
  • 100 grams glace ginger approximately two thumb sized pieces, optional
  • 100 grams glace figs approximately 3 medium figs, optional
  • 100 grams walnuts approximately 310 ml or 1 1/4 cup
  • 20 ml cinnamon powder approximately 4 teaspoons
  • 20 ml ginger powder approximately 4 teaspoons
  • 10 ml mixed spice powder approximately 2 teaspoons
  • 500 ml water
  • 10 ml baking soda / bicarbonate of soda approximately 2 level teaspoons
  • 6 large eggs
  • 60 ml vegetable oil
  • 500 grams cake or fine sponge flour approximately 1000 ml or 4 cups lightly packed
  • 20 ml baking powder approximately 4 teaspoons


One day before baking

  • In a deep pot add the butter, sugar, spices, water, baking soda and dried fruits.
  • Add 100 grams of the whole cherries and bring to the boil on a medium heat.
  • Allow to boil for 5-6 minutes until the rolling foaming stops, and take care that it does not boil over as the mixture is very hot and will scald.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then cover and leave to rest for at least 12 hours or overnight.

Baking day

  • When ready to proceed with baking, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius or 160 fan / 350 F / Gas mark 4.
  • Add the eggs to the cooled fruit mixture, one at a time and mix thoroughly, then add the oil.
  • Lastly sift in the flour and baking powder and mix thoroughly to combine.
  • Decant into cake tins that have been lined with parchment paper. No greasing is required.
  • Place in the lower shelf of the oven and bake for 5 mins before reducing the temperature to 170 degrees celcius or 150 fan / 325 F / Gas Mark 3, for another 65 - 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • The tray cake will bake for a shorter time so check it after 45 minutes.


  • The prep time does not include the 12 hours resting time of the boiled fruit mixture.
  • The original recipe used 500 grams self raising flour, but I substituted it with 500 grams cake flour or fine sponge flour, plus 20 ml baking powder. If you wish, you can use the self raising flour instead, but the texture may be different.
  • If using unsalted butter add up to 1/2 teaspoon salt to the batter.
  • I use Mixed Spice powder, and if that is not available, you may substitute with a similar quantity of pumpkin pie spice powder.
  • I have used different size pans when making these cakes. The batter is enough for two 20 cm round cakes or one 20 cm round cake and a rectangular sheet cake (23 x 30.5 x 3.5 cm approximately 9" x 12 1/4" x 1 1/4")


Serving: 60gCalories: 472kcalCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 5gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 305mgPotassium: 200mgFiber: 2gSugar: 41gVitamin A: 585IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 78mgIron: 1mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.

Keyword alcohol free, easy holiday baking, make-ahead
Tried this recipe?Let us know or tag @TantaliseMyTasteBuds on Instagram if you loved our recipes and remember to subscribe to our mailing list.

If you liked the recipe above please consider rating the recipe and leaving a comment below. Also keep in touch on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for more updates.

Don’t forget to share the recipe with your family and friends and #tantalisemytastebuds if you share one of my recipes that you made on Instagram!

Want more? To get new recipes delivered straight to your inbox, join our club and subscribe to Tantalise My Taste Buds.


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Ambuj Saxena
    December 15, 2020 at 1:15 am

    Hmmm so delicious!! You sure know how to win over someone glad

  • Reply
    December 14, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    This is very interesting. I never tried a fruitcake in my life.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2020 at 9:26 am

    This looks like a really yummy treat! This would be so yummy for the holiday season!

  • Reply
    Krysten Quiles
    December 13, 2020 at 1:22 am

    Oooh yum, that sounds absolutely delish! Totally trying this out.

  • Reply
    Celebrate Woman Today
    December 12, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    This is an amazingly beautiful and so delish-looking dessert for any holiday. You are master chefs!

  • Reply
    Rose Ann Sales
    December 12, 2020 at 8:35 pm

    Seems so nice and moist. I want mine this way too

  • Reply
    December 12, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    This fruit cake looks delicious! Great step by step instructions. I will try this recipe once I have all the necessary ingredients.

  • Reply
    December 12, 2020 at 10:32 am

    I’d love to try out a fruit cake. Looks really delish!

  • Reply
    Gervin Khan
    December 12, 2020 at 7:16 am

    Oh my goodness, seeing this fruit cake looks really delicious and makes my mouthwatering!

  • Reply
    December 11, 2020 at 11:53 pm

    Omg soo delicious recipe thank you so much. I love fruit cake just don’t know how to make it. Thanks you now i know😀

  • Reply
    June 2, 2019 at 11:34 am

    you know what? this recipe is just SOOO MEEEE.. I love cake. I love Fruit.. And I love spicy food.. Imagine I can have it all in this recipe.. I must must must try this.. OHHH… how can I resist.

  • Reply
    David Elliott
    May 31, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    I am not the biggest fruit cake fan to be honest. Although I have heard the home made ones can be really good. i know my dad likes it though. Maybe I could make this for him on his birthday.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      June 2, 2019 at 1:06 pm

      I hated fruit cake when I was younger. Always so dry and tasteless. This one though is the best though and I can eat it plain or with custard for dessert 😂

  • Reply
    Nayna Kanabar
    May 31, 2019 at 1:37 am

    This fruit cake looks so deliciously moist and tasty and so light. I would love to have that with coffee.

  • Reply
    May 30, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    I love them. I have tried them only on bakery shops though. Never made myself. They feel heavenly and so satisfying . I am going to try it. God, I am tempted to have it now.

  • Reply
    Ewuzie Kingsley
    May 30, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    Yummy this looks delicious and tasty I have so much love for fruit cakes, and this is Just appetizing Although having to try it with custard seem nice I think having it with a bowl of ice cream or Vanila milk shake with go well.

  • Reply
    Geraline Batarra
    May 30, 2019 at 8:45 am

    This recipe sounds great. I bet I can follow the instructions, seems so easy. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Gervin Khan
    May 29, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    This sounds like an old delicious recipe to make for everyone and I will definitely preparing this for our next family gathering.

  • Reply
    May 29, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    So good to prepare old time recipes and fruit cake. I can imagine the delicious taste and will plan to make it soon.

  • Reply
    Samantha Donnelly
    May 29, 2019 at 12:22 am

    My Mum makes hers with a similar recipe, it always smells amazing x

  • Reply
    March 7, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    I’m baking this cake for the second time, only because my father in-law says its the best fruit cake that he has ever eaten. I must confess, it is a very delicious cake. I don’t even eat fruit cake, but enjoy eating this one.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      March 7, 2019 at 8:26 pm

      Haha it’s one of only two fruitcakes that I eat. I still have to get the recipe for the second one from my aunt ❤️

  • Reply
    December 9, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    Yumm, I love fruit cakes but never tried making one my own. This looks so delicious

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 9, 2018 at 2:38 pm

      What I love about this recipe is that it’s a one bowl wonder… I usually refrigerate the boiled mixture in the same cooking vessel after it has cooled and mix the other ingredients in the next day. You don’t need any fancy stand mixers or even an electric hand beater. Any wooden spoon will do 🙂

  • Reply
    May 28, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Wow, what a beautiful idea. I love fruit cake but have never tried at home for the fear that it wont turn out good. Time to put on the apron I guess. Looks so delish and easy

  • Reply
    May 28, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    The cake looks so yum,moist and perfect!i love such fruit cakes and always want to try it!?

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      May 28, 2016 at 7:29 pm

      Thank you. You should try making this in shaa ALLAH, it is so easy 🙂

  • Reply
    May 28, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Looks so delicious and moist

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      May 28, 2016 at 7:30 pm

      Thank you, it’s lovely and perfect with a cup of tea 🙂

  • Reply
    May 28, 2016 at 10:21 am

    This cake looks so yummy and spongy… I never tried baking section and this cake inspires me to try a cake recipe…

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      May 28, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      Thank you. Many cooks are little afraid of baking, but this is so easy you will love making it.

  • Reply
    May 28, 2016 at 6:10 am

    That is just a lovely scrumptious cake… Definitely a keeper recipe

  • Reply
    May 28, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Salaam Razena! I am visiting your blog for the first time today. Came to know about your blog through muslim food bloggers facebook group. Glad I did. Lovely blog with great recipes. The cake looks too good. ??

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      May 28, 2016 at 7:33 pm

      Wa alaykum salaam wa rahmatullah. Thank you for your kind words, and I am happy to welcome you to my little blog space 🙂

  • Reply
    Lubna Karim
    May 27, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    This is a treat….so yum…I love fruit loaded cake and this one is one of its kind….

  • Reply
    May 13, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    All of the best recipes come with an excellent story like this behind them. I’ve always been apprehensive of trying fruit cake because media always makes it look like a dry and foul-tasting cake, but this looks amazing!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      May 13, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      I think many of those reports of dry and foul tasting cakes are probably not far off. I’ve tried one or two others over the years and they were rather tasteless and dry for my tastes. This one is both moist and very flavourful with all the warming spices.

  • Reply
    Uma Srinivas
    May 5, 2016 at 12:55 am

    Looks great! I think ginger flavor will be good in cakes:) perfect for tea time!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      May 8, 2016 at 8:26 am

      Although there is powdered dried ginger as well as glaced ginger in this recipe it is not overpowering at all and adds a lovely warmth to the cake.

  • Reply
    April 29, 2016 at 4:53 am

    I love cakes and that just looks amazing and so flavorful..

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      April 29, 2016 at 5:32 am

      True… we eat with our eyes as much as our mouths 🙂

  • Reply
    April 20, 2016 at 2:24 am

    Glad your Mum asked what the method was – sounds like a really beautiful cake!

  • Reply
    April 14, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    Dry cake is such a disappointment but as you know, it’s the thought that really counts. It looks delicious and the spices sound wonderful! Glad you all were able to figure out that the problem was and turn it into a moist wonderful cake. I actually love fruit cake. I remember eating it every year as a kid.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      April 14, 2016 at 10:29 pm

      The funny thing is, it took my mum a long time to ask her friend what she was doing because she didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Just as well that she did because the solution was such an easy one.

  • Reply
    Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy
    April 14, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Homemade fruit cake is so good. I have never made it this way. I sure looks nice and moist and packed with fruit….really good tasting I bet!!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      April 14, 2016 at 10:27 pm

      As a child I loved my Aunt’s make and bake fruit cake, but this one really is delicious and moist with the warm aromas of spices.

  • Reply
    April 14, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Ooh I’d forgotten all about boiled fruit cakes. Old fashioned they might be, but they deserve to be bought back into fashion.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      April 14, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      These days everything must be done quickly and the long processes have been forgotten even though they have such a wonderful end result.

  • Reply
    Annie @ Annie's Noms
    April 14, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    I’ve never heard of a cake that is boiled before being baked! This looks so decadent and rich though; just beautiful!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      April 14, 2016 at 10:24 pm

      Only the fruit mix is boiled with the sugar and butter and left to cool overnight. It becomes thick and silky as it cools.

  • Reply
    Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy
    April 14, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Fruit cake always reminds me of weddings, so I always have happy memories when I see recipes for it.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      April 14, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      Haha as a child I used to hate the fruit cake that they usually handed out as favours at the end of the wedding. They all tasted the same and very bland.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2016 at 2:33 am

    What a delicious-looking cake! It must be so fragrant with such lovely fruits and spices. I would love a slice of this with a cup of tea.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      April 13, 2016 at 11:03 am

      If the smell while it’s baking doesn’t knock you out, the taste will. It really is my favorite fruit cake 🙂

    Leave a Reply

    Recipe Rating

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.