The Four Seasons’ Christmas Fruitcake

Light Fruitcake Wrapped in Marzipan

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes three 8-x-4 inch loaves; each serves about


Appears in

Four Seasons’ pastry chef Patrick Lemblé, a native of Mulhouse in Alsace, wraps his holiday fruitcake in marzipan, an old-World touch. This is a simple spiced cake, chock-full of fruits and nuts. It cuts into a precise cross-section, neatly enveloped in its marzipan wrapper.

For restaurant gifts, Patrick bakes over 300 pounds of this fruitcake over a period of five days. This is his recipe, downsized for home baking.


  • 1 pound mixed dried fruits, such as prunes, apricots, apples, pears and figs
  • Dark rum or brandy, as needed
  • 2⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • teaspoons ground allspice
  • teaspoons fresh-grated nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
  • 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons ( sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • cups plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 9 large eggs
  • 2 cups (about ½ pound) chopped walnuts

Marzipan Wrapping

  • pounds almond paste, preferably canned
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • Sugar, for sprinkling


  1. Chop the mixed dried fruits into ½-inch dice. Place in a bowl and douse generously with rum or brandy. Soak overnight or longer, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving the liquid; set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8-x-4-inch loaf pans; line the bottoms with rectangles of parchment or wax paper; butter the paper; set aside. Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and spices onto a sheet of wax paper; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter, confectioners’ sugar and lemon and orange zests until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions.
  4. Lower the speed to medium-slow and fold in the flour mixture. Fold in the soaked fruits and the walnuts, along with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the soaking liquid. Divide the batter among the pans.
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves emerges clean, about 1 hour.
  6. Remove the cakes from the pans and cool on wire racks for 15 minutes. Unmold, turn right side up and cool to room temperature.
  7. MARZIPAN WRAPPING: In a food processor or with an electric mixer, combine the almond paste, confectioners’ sugar and corn syrup until smooth and well blended. Alternately, knead together by hand. Divide the marzipan into 3 equal pieces. Neatly slice off any rough edges from each loaf; slice enough off the top of each loaf to level it.
  8. On a work surface sprinkled with a little confectioners’ sugar, roll out a piece of the marzipan to an even 11-x-8-inch rectangle. If you leave the marzipan somewhat tacky, it will stick to the cake by itself; if it does not, brush one side of the marzipan lightly with corn syrup. Drape the marzipan, syrup side down, covering the top and long sides, over 1 loaf. Tuck the edges under the bottom of the loaf and press gently so it adheres; don’t worry about the short ends. Using a long serrated knife, cut a slice from both ends of the loaf, to expose the cake. Sprinkle sugar over the marzipan. Wrap tightly in plastic. Roll out the remaining pieces of marzipan, cover the remaining loaves, trim and wrap in the same fashion. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week.