Nancy Spiller’s Completely Different California Fruit Cake Recipe



  • 1 lb. blanched almonds (3 cups)
  • ½ lb pecans (2 cups)
  • ¼ pound walnuts (1 cup)
  • 4 lbs mixed candied fruit
  • 1 lb seeded raisins
  • 10 oz. dried figs
  • 1 lb. pitted dates (2 cups)
  • ½ lb. currants
  • ½ lb. dried apricots
  • ½ lb. dried cherries
  • ½ lb. dried blueberries
  • ½ lb. dried cranberries
  • ½ to 1 cup crystalized ginger (optional)
  • 1 glass brandy (½ cup or more, if desired)
  • 1 glass jam (8-10 oz., or more, blackberry preferred)
  • 4 tsp. Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. Allspice
  • 2 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. Cloves
  • 1 lb. butter
  • 1 lb. brown sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 lb. flour (3 ½ to 4 cups)
  • 2 tsps. Salt


  1. Whole blanched almonds, whole candied cherries for decoration.
  2. Recipe yields approximately 17 pounds of fruitcake, which can make anywhere from 8 to 10 standard loafs, or a combination of standard and small loaves.
  3. Chop nuts and fruits (grind dates and figs if you’ve got the equipment, as they’re sticky, or be prepared for more chopping time) and combine. Add brandy, jam and spices; mix well. In a separate bowl cream butter, add sugar, molasses and eggs beaten until foamy, mix thoroughly; add flour and salt and mix to batter consistency. Pour over fruit mixture and combine the two.
  4. A little more flour may be needed, or a little more brandy. What dough there is should be fairly stiff, not runny.
  5. Grease pans well, line with heavy waxed, brown or parchment paper. Fill the pans three-fourths full. Decorate with almonds and cherries pressed into tops. Bake in a preheated 275° - 300° oven until a straw or toothpick comes out clean (2-3 hours, depending on size of pans. Be careful not to overbake or burn.) Have a pan of hot water in bottom of oven for moisture during baking.
  6. When done, turn cakes on racks to cool. Pour a little brandy slowly over the top of each. In 15 minutes invert on waxed paper on racks, remove baking paper and pour more brandy slowly over each one. A warm cake absorbs the liquid better than a cold one. When cold, wrap in cheesecloth, then plastic wrap, and place in air-tight containers.

Nancy Spiller’s memoir, "Compromise Cake: Lessons Learned From My Mother's Recipe Box" is available online and in book stores.