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Catholic Recipe: Three-Way Fruit Cake


  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup chopped candied pineapple
  • 1-1/2 cups whole candied cherries
  • 1 cup seedless raisins
  • 1 cup chopped figs or dates
  • 1 cup diced citron
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Details

  • Yield: 1 8-inch tube cake, 2 wreaths, and 3 candles
  • Prep Time: 5 hours
  • Difficulty: • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 15+
  • 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 recipe makes enough batter for cakes in the shape of 2 wreaths and 3 candles.


Combine oil, sugar, and eggs; beat vigorously with spoon or electric mixer for 2 minutes. Sift 2 cups of the flour with baking powder, salt, and spices. Stir into oil mixture alternately with the pineapple juice. Mix remaining cup of flour with fruits and nuts. Pour batter over this mixture, blending well. Turn into well-oiled pans. Set a pan of water on lower oven rack. Bake at 275° for 2-1/2 to 3 hours for large cake. Let stand 15 minutes before removing from pans; then cool on racks. Wrap in aluminum foil; store to ripen. Glaze before using. An hour or two before slicing, chill cakes in refrigerator. This quantity of batter will make 1 8-inch tube cake, 2 wreaths, and 3 candles.

NOTE: For wreath, place 6-ounce frozen fruit juice concentrate can in center of 1-pound coffee can. Fill juice can nearly to top with rice or beans to prevent its rising as cake bakes. Oil cans before spooning in batter. Bake about 2 hours at 275°. Decorate with white icing. For candle, spoon batter into 6-ounce frozen fruit juice concentrate can (well-oiled). Fill can 3/4 full. Top batter with candied cherry. Bake about 1-1/4 hours at 275°. Decorate with white icing to resemble melted candle wax. To serve, slice in thin rounds.

To glaze cakes, combine 2 Tablespoons each brown sugar and water and 1 Tablespoon corn syrup in saucepan; bring to boil; boil 2 minutes. Cool. Brush over tops of cooled cakes. Decorate with candied fruits, if desired.

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