Tea time treats

Spiced boiled fruit cake

Spiced boiled fruit cake

If memory serves me, this recipe for a moist, dark, rich and beautifully spiced boiled fruit cake was passed to my mother from an old family friend.

The first time I tasted this spiced 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. 🙂

Spiced boiled fruit cake

Spiced boiled fruit cake

Aunty Joan normally baked these fruit cakes 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 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.

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 a moist, tender and spiced confection. My mother adapted the original 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.

Spiced boiled fruit cake

Spiced boiled fruit cake

Spiced Boiled fruit cake

Course: Tea time treats
Cuisine: South African
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 24
Calories: 472 kcal
Author: Razena Schroeder
This moist, rich and beautifully spiced boiled fruit cake is delicious for afternoon tea or served with custard for dessert.


  • 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

  1. In a deep pot add the butter, sugar, spices, water, baking soda and dried fruits.
  2. Add 100 grams of the whole cherries and bring to the boil on a medium heat.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then cover and leave to rest for at least 12 hours or overnight.

Baking day

  1. When ready to proceed with baking, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius or 160 fan / 350 F / Gas mark 4.
  2. Add the eggs to the cooled fruit mixture, one at a time and mix thoroughly, then add the oil.
  3. Lastly sift in the flour and baking powder and mix thoroughly to combine.
  4. Decant into cake tins that have been lined with parchment paper. No greasing is required.
  5. 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.
  6. The tray cake will bake for a shorter time so check it after 45 minutes.

Recipe Notes

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")

Nutrition Facts
Spiced Boiled fruit cake
Amount Per Serving (60 g)
Calories 472 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 35%
Saturated Fat 13g 65%
Cholesterol 85mg 28%
Sodium 305mg 13%
Potassium 200mg 6%
Total Carbohydrates 62g 21%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 41g
Protein 5g 10%
Vitamin A 11.7%
Vitamin C 0.2%
Calcium 7.8%
Iron 5.6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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  • 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 🙂

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