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Catholic Recipe: Rich Fruit Cake


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon mace
  • 1 cup dried currants
  • 1 cup finely chopped candied orange peel
  • 1-3/4 cups finely chopped candied cherries
  • 1 cup finely chopped candied pineapple
  • 2 2/3 cups finely chopped candied citron
  • 2 2/3 cups seeded raisins
  • 2 cups seedless raisins
  • 2/3 cup grape juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 Tablespoons hot water
  • Details

  • Yield: 2 loaves
  • Prep Time: 5 hours
  • Difficulty: • • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 11+
  • Origin:


In England the first Sunday in Advent is sometimes called Stir-up Sunday. There are only twenty-four days to Christmas, and the plum puddings and fruit cakes that need to ripen must be begun on this day. The whole family helps to cut up fruit and crack nuts while mother makes the basic dough. It becomes quite a ritual, and is one more way to draw the family together in mutual activity, sentiment, and affection.

The richness and spiciness of fruit cakes and plum puddings bring to mind the gifts of the Magi to the Christ Child — gold and frankincense and myrrh.

This is an typical fruit cake, made in the traditional manner. Make it ahead of time, and let the cake "age."


Cream shortening; add brown sugar gradually. Beat egg yolks; add with molasses. Beat egg whites stiff; fold in. Sift 1 cup flour with spices; add. Mix remaining flour with fruit; add. Add grape juice. Dissolve baking soda in water; add. Mix well. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 325° for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until done. Cool. Store in tightly covered container. Sprinkle with grape juice or brandy from time to time to moisten.

Recipe Source: Cook's Blessings, The by Demetria Taylor, Random House, New York, 1965
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