Nannie Craig’s Fruitcake

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:

    one 2¼ pound

    tube cake

Appears in

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1987

  • About

One of the recipes in the manuscript cookbook compiled for me by my mother shortly after World War II is labeled, simply, Nannie Craig’s Fruitcake, and I have no idea as to her exact ancestry or relationship to my family. I have always presumed she was an aunt or other close relative. In any event, it is a great holiday cake.


  • ½ cup chopped glacéed cherries
  • cups chopped glacéed pineapple
  • 3 cups seedless black raisins
  • cups dried black currants
  • 2 cups broken pecans
  • cups chopped blanched almonds
  • 1 cup bourbon, Cognac, or rum
  • cups flour
  • ½ pound butter
  • cups sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoons ground ginger
  • teaspoons ground mace
  • 1 tablespoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 4 cups Grated Fresh Coconut, or 2 cups unsweetened dried coconut
  • 1 cup Fig Preserves
  • ½ cup quince, apricot, or grape jelly
  • Quick Fondant Icing, optional
  • Candied fruits such as cherries, angelica, and so on, for decorating the cake, optional


  • Combine the glacéed cherries, pineapple, raisins, currants, pecans, and almonds in a mixing bowl and add ½ cup bourbon, Cognac, or rum. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  • Empty the fruits onto a flat surface and sprinkle with ½ cup flour. Toss to coat the fruits and nuts and set aside.
  • Put the butter into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugar and start beating, first on low and then on high speed. Cream the mixture well until it is light-colored. Beat in the egg yolks, 1 at a time.
  • Meanwhile, combine the remaining 2 cups flour with the baking powder, baking soda, ginger, mace, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Sift the dry ingredients together.
  • Gradually beat the flour mixture into the butter-and-sugar mixture. Gradually beat in the orange juice, the remaining ½ cup bourbon, Cognac or rum, the coconut, fig preserves, and jelly. Fold in the floured fruit.
  • Beat the egg whites until they stand in stiff peaks. Fold them into the batter. This recipe yields about 4 quarts (16 cups) of batter.
  • Butter the baking pans well. Line them with a double layer of wax paper or a single layer of parchment paper, and grease the paper. If using Teflon-coated pans, butter the pan and line the bottom with a cutout of buttered wax paper. The batter may be portioned into pans of various sizes, but do not fill any pan full of batter, for it expands as it bakes. Always leave about 1 inch of space from the top of the pan. This recipe was most recently tested with two standard 9 × 5 × 2-inch Teflon loaf pans plus one 8½ × 4½ × 3-inch (6 cup) loaf pan (a 6-cup round tube pan could also be used).
  • Bake the cakes for 2½ hours and increase the heat to 275 degrees. Bake a total of about 3½ hours for the large loaf pans, a total of about 3 hours and 15 minutes for the smaller ones. Cooking times will vary from oven to oven. The correct internal temperature for these cakes is 160 degrees when a meat thermometer is inserted.
  • When the cakes are removed from the oven, cool them on a rack for at least 30 minutes, run a knife around the edges and, while still warm, invert them onto a rack. They should not stick on the bottom, but if they do, scrape out the stuck portion and repair the bottom with that. Frost with icing and decorate, if desired, with candied fruit.