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A Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe for Anti-Marzipan-ers

So. Fruit cake. Christmas fruit cake, at that. It’s an odd beast. Dragons rather enjoy…

So. Fruit cake. Christmas fruit cake, at that. It’s an odd beast. Dragons rather enjoy fruit cake, particularly dipped in eggnog, but maybe it’s something to do with their fire-breathing tastes. I mean, the cake itself is nice, but then everyone goes and plonks a load of weird plastic icing on top. You know. Marzipan. Ew. As far as I’m concerned, it’s fun for making things with, but so’s modelling clay. I’m not going to eat either of them.

christmas fruit cake recipe no marzipan cozy mystery recipes dragons Baking Bad Yule Be Sorry Beaufort Scales
I have marzipan-ed before. Not to eat, though. Never that.

Then there’s the issue of the wildly varying cake quality. Some of them are so thoroughly brandy-doused that you can get tipsy on the fumes alone. Others are thankfully (for me, at least — not everyone disagrees with alcoholic cake) booze-free, but are therefore so dry it takes your entire cup of tea to get them down, after which they lurk in the depths of your intestines for about three days, fermenting. Still others are loaded with candied fruit and glace cherries, including those weird green ones that look like they come out of the Springfield nuclear plant. I mean — does anyone actually eat those?

Not that I’m fussy or anything.

christmas fruit cake recipe no marzipan cozy mystery recipes dragons Baking Bad Yule Be Sorry Beaufort Scales
Mmm, fruit…

I like cake. I like dried fruit. Most of it, anyway. Let’s just be clear that the glories which are pineapple, mango and papaya should never be reduced to shrivelled, sugar-encrusted morsels. That’s just wrong. As wrong as nuclear green cherries. And I’m not even going to deign to mention the monstrosities that are banana chips.

What was I saying? Oh, yes — that I like most dried fruit. And like is too mild a term for my attitude to cake. Cake is life, after all. And every now and then I do stumble upon a fruit cake that is tender and moist and full of wintry spices, their flavour offering a counterpoint to the sweet-tart fruit rather than being overwhelmed by it. It’s the sort of cake that would mature well if left for a while, but rarely gets the chance. It might suit being served with a crumbly wedge of Wensleydale cheese for morning tea, or with a dollop of cream for an indulgent dessert.

And it is categorically not topped with marzipan.

christmas fruit cake recipe no marzipan cozy mystery recipes dragons Baking Bad Yule Be Sorry Beaufort Scales
Top tip – wear gloves. Food dye sticks to you better than it does to the icing.

Which is where the SO, utterly amazing supporter and truly excellent pastry chef, comes in. He assured me that he had a recipe for just such a cake, and that, even better, it was easy to make and likely resistant to my habits of reckless substitution.

Please note that he did not say he’d make it for me. Although he did do all the mixing because my wrist’s in a support, so I guess you could call it a team effort.

Still. Pastry chef.


Unimpressive in looks, delightful in taste.


 Marzipan-free & Dragon-Friendly Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe

  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 250mL sour cream
  • 175g chopped dates
  • 300g raisins
  • 60g chopped glazed cherries (Me: Ew! You said this was nice! The SO: Okay, okay. Jeez. Use dried cranberries. You’re the substitution queen, remember?)
  • 125g chopped walnuts
  • 240g flour
  • 115g butter
  • 200g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Grated rind of one orange
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • Brandy (optional)

Preheat oven to 160C. Line a 23cm x 13cm loaf tin with baking paper.

Combine sour cream and baking soda; set aside.

Combine dried fruit and nuts, then toss with about ¼ cup of flour. Set aside. (Me: is this a way to find out how many bowls we own?)

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy, then mix in egg. Follow with vanilla, orange rind and finally the sour cream mix. Then add flour, salt and spices, stir to combine, and finally add the fruit and nuts.

Pour into prepared loaf tin and pop in the oven. Add a separate pan of water to the oven, either beneath or beside the loaf, because magic. (The SO: Not magic. Even cooking. Me: I know. Magic. The SO: shakes head.)

Bake for about an hour and a half, or until a skewer comes out clean. You may need to top up the magic water during baking.

Eat immediately or wrap tightly to store. If storing, you might want to sprinkle it with a bit of brandy to keep it moist and enhance the flavour.

Look, it might be prettier, but it’s covered in what is essentially plasticine, okay?

How about you, lovely people? Do you like fruit cake? How does this measure up to your favourite recipe? And what are your favourite wintery treats? Let me know below!

If you’re looking for more dragon-approved recipes, you can find them in the Beaufort Scales cosy mystery books — this is in Yule Be Sorry. And if you’re wondering where to start, you can find Baking Bad at your favourite retailer!

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  1. lavacha says:

    You got me, I’m going to try that recipe. I’ve never met a fruit cake I like and usually stick to panettone around Christmas…
    And please tell me you’ll want beta readers for this one too?

    1. kimwatt says:

      I’m deeply suspicious of fruit cake, but this is just gorgeous! And panettone I’ve always found really dry – maybe I haven’t had a good one yet?

      And I’m so sorry – I’m in the final stages of formatting Yule Be Sorry now! I would have loved for you to beta again, as you gave both fantastic encouragement and caught so many wee typos and errors I’d completely missed. I could have sworn I messaged you about it back in September, then thought you must have been too busy when I didn’t hear anything, but given my level of organisation I may have just thought I messaged you… I’ll send you an ARC next week! <3

      1. lavacha says:

        You might have sent me an e-mail an the spam ate it, my phone was broken and the thingie I used in between was weird. I grabbed the arc when you posted the link on your blog and promptly wrecked my tablet… But I’m reading book 2 right now (so very good❤), preordered the ebook and already know who’ll get hard copies for her birthday?.
        You must have been really unlucky with your panettone! I’ve already got the fruitcake ingredients, now to find time for baking…

        1. kimwatt says:

          Aw, I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! And bad, bad spam – I do always have niggling doubts about that, because I use the website email address. I know my newsletters end up in my own junk mail on a regular basis, which is annoying. Ah well. I’ll definitely be in touch for book 3, and I’ll have to give panettone another chance this year!

  2. You know my feelings on marzipan, so I will just say thank you for having the courage to call it what it is.

    As yummy as this particular fruitcake sounds (and yes, I thought all of them had to include booze and those awful cherries), I think I’m going to be trying some of the other recipes from the books first. Especially the mince pies that I didn’t realize could be made without meat.

    I have so much to learn about the world . . .

    1. kimwatt says:


      And the mince pies were truly a revelation to me – as well as reassuring me that no one was actually eating meat pies with their tea. I mean, I know the UK had a pretty bad reputation for food for a long time, but that was pushing it…

Comment away! (Points awarded for comments involving cats, tea, or baked goods)

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