Grandma Head always made the best fruitcake. I don’t know how long it took her, but she made many loaves to give away to family members. She lovingly wrapped each loaf in foil and tied it with ribbon, adding a name tag to make sure no one got left out. I’m so glad I got to learn this unique, delicious recipe.
The Wet Ingredients
I’ve adapted the first part to make it a bit easier. Grandma put the butter and sugar in the oven, but I prefer the stovetop since it’s a lot faster.
Heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches about 240 degrees, or soft ball stage. The butter and sugar will start turning a light caramel color, and it will smell delicious!
1 lb. sugar
1 lb. butter
Meanwhile, beat and set aside:
When the butter and sugar mixture is cool, mix in the beaten eggs. It doesn’t have to be completely cold. Warm to the touch is fine.
The Dry Ingredients
In a very large bowl, sift:
4 c. flour
Add all of the following, being sure to coat well with the flour. Fingers work really well here.
1 ½ lb. pecan halves (Grandma sometimes used walnuts.)
*1 lb. red candied cherries, cut into halves
*1 lb. green candied cherries, cut into halves
*1 lb. candied pineapple
*Note: Candied fruits are much easier to find around the holidays, but you can get them online in the off season. The cherries are also known as glace cherries.
All Together Now
Stir in the wet ingredients and the extract until everything’s well-mixed.
1 ½ – 2 oz. lemon extract (¼ c.) (I needed a whole bottle! It sounds like a lot, but the flavor isn’t overpowering in the final product.)
Bake the fruitcake in the 5 greased loaf pans (4×7.5”, size “medium”) for 2 – 2 ½ hours at 275 degrees. The tops should be a nice, golden brown, and you shouldn’t get any crumbs from a toothpick test.
Leave the pans to cool for 1 hour before removing the cakes. The fruitcake can be frozen for later, but it’s especially delicious when it’s fresh. The sweet and chewy fruit is a perfect contrast to the crunchy, toasted nuts and buttery, caramelized cake. A hint of lemon ties everything together nicely. If you think you don’t like fruitcake, give Grandma’s a try!
Find more recipes for cakes and pies here and more posts about Christmas here.
“Christmas Lights” Fruitcake (Grandma’s Recipe)
- 5 4×7.5" loaf pans medium size
- 1 pound sugar
- 1 pound butter
- 6 eggs beaten
- 4 cups flour
- 1 1/2 pounds pecans halves, or walnuts
- 1 pound red candied cherries halves, also known as glace cherries
- 1 pound green candied cherries halves
- 1 pound candied pineapple
- 1 1/2-2 ounces lemon extract 1/4 cup
- In a saucepan or pot, heat the butter and sugar, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches about 240 degrees, or soft ball stage. It should be a light caramel color.1 pound sugar, 1 pound butter
- Let the mixture cool to warm and stir in the eggs. Preheat the oven to 275 and grease the loaf pans.6 eggs
- In a very large bowl, sift the flour. Add all of the fruit and nuts, being sure to coat well with the flour. Fingers work really well here.4 cups flour, 1 1/2 pounds pecans, 1 pound red candied cherries, 1 pound green candied cherries, 1 pound candied pineapple
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, including the lemon extract.1 1/2-2 ounces lemon extract
- Bake the fruitcake in the greased loaf pans for 2 – 2 ½ hours at 275 degrees. The tops should be a nice, golden brown, and you shouldn’t get any crumbs from a toothpick test. Leave the pans to cool for 1 hour before removing the cakes. The fruitcake can be frozen for later, but it’s especially delicious when it’s fresh.