English Dried Fruit Cake


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    12 to 14

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About
Oven Temperature 350°F/175°C
Baking Time 40 to 50 minutes

This dried fruit cake is totally unlike the usual English fruitcake, which uses glacéed fruit. I adapted it from a recipe that my talented friend and fellow blogger Kate Coldrick gave me during my first visit to her in Devon, England. It is the one my dad requested that I send most often. One of its many virtues is that it ships well and has a long shelf life, especially if you pour as much rum onto it as my dad did!

Plan Ahead For best flavor, complete the cake 1 day ahead if using the rum.



pecan pieces 2 cups 8 ounces 227 grams
mixed dried fruit, coarsely chopped (see Note) about 1 cup 5.3 ounces 150 grams
2 medium baking apples (12 ounces/343 grams) cups (chopped) 10 ounces (chopped) 284 grams (chopped)
lemon juice, freshly squeezed 1 tablespoon (15 ml) 0.6 ounce 16 grams
unsalted butter 8 tablespoons (1 stick) 4 ounces 113 grams
superfine sugar cups 10.6 ounces 300 grams
dark brown sugar, preferably Muscovado ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons, firmly packed 3.5 ounces 100 grams
orange zest, finely grated 2 tablespoons, loosely packed . 12 grams
pure vanilla extract 2 teaspoons (10 ml) . .
6 large eggs, at room temperature 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (281 ml) 10.6 ounces 300 grams
bleached all-purpose flour 2⅔ cups (sifted into the cup and leveled off) 10.6 ounces 300 grams
baking powder ½ teaspoon . 2.2 grams
baking soda 1 teaspoon . 5.5 grams
fine sea salt 1 teaspoon . 6 grams
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon . 2.2 grams
dark rum (optional) ¼ cup (59 ml) 1.9 ounces 55 grams

Special Equipment

One 13 by 9 by 2 inch high metal pan (or two 8 or 9 by 2 inch round cake pans), wrapped with cake strips, bottom coated with shortening, topped with parchment, then coated with baking spray with flour


Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Toast the Pecans

Spread the pecans evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes to enhance their flavor. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid overbrowning. Cool completely. With your hands, break the pecans into about ¼ inch pieces and place them in a small bowl.

Soak the Fruit

In a medium bowl, place the dried fruit and cover with boiling water. Let the fruit sit for 5 minutes and then drain well.

Prepare the Apples

Just before mixing the batter, peel and core the apples. Chop them into small pieces, about ¼ inch in size. Weigh or measure the apples, sprinkle them with lemon juice, and set aside.

Make the Batter

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the superfine sugar and brown sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring, for 1 minute. The mixture will look like wet sand. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped apples, orange zest, and vanilla. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, stirring after each addition until uniformly incorporated.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the dried fruit and pecans until they are evenly coated with the flour mixture.

Add the apple mixture. Use a silicone spatula to stir and fold the batter until well mixed. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan (or divide it evenly between the round cake pans, about 31 ounces/880 grams in each). The pan(s) will be half full.

Bake the Cake

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes (30 to 40 minutes if using the two round pans), or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.

Cool and Unmold the Cake

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. To prevent splitting, reinvert the cake so that the top side is up, and cool completely for about 2 hours.

Apply the Optional Rum

If you enjoy a heightened rum flavor along with a little extra moistness, use the optional ¼ cup of rum. After initially inverting the cake, brush the bottom side with one-third of the rum. Set a serving plate (or a 13 by 9 inch cardboard rectangle wrapped in plastic wrap) on top and reinvert the cake. Poke the top all over with a thin skewer and brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining rum.

Cool completely for about 2 hours and wrap airtight.

Special Unmolding Instructions for Long Storage

If you are planning to store the cake for several weeks to 6 months, you will need to wrap the cake in a rum-soaked cheesecloth, followed by two layers of plastic wrap, and then heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut a piece of cheesecloth large enough to wrap the entire cake, and sheets of plastic wrap to encase the cake airtight. Make a 13 by 9 inch cardboard rectangle, and one 40 by 18 inch sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. After inverting the cake onto a wire rack, sprinkle the cheesecloth with the optional rum and drape it over the cake. Then drape the pieces of plastic wrap over the cheesecloth. Place the cardboard rectangle on top. Invert the cake onto it and set it on the foil. Poke the top all over with a thin skewer. Bring up the sides of the cheesecloth and drape it over the top of the cake. Next, bring up the strips of plastic wrap to encase the entire cake, and finally bring up the sides of the foil, wrapping the cake tightly.

Store the cake in the refrigerator. Every 2 months, open the plastic wrap and sprinkle another 2 tablespoons of rum evenly over the cheesecloth before resealing.


Airtight: room temperature, 5 days; refrigerated, 3 weeks; frozen, 6 months. Add extra rum if the cake seems to be getting slightly drier.