Cassandra's "Light" Fruitcake Recipe


This bourbon-doused fruitcake is sure to turn the taste buds of even the most skeptical holiday guest. This family recipe was a childhood tradition that lived on through Cassandra King after her mother passed—but just slightly askew—until her daddy let her in on the secret touch she was missing: "Every time your mama wasn't looking, I'd sneak into the closet and pour more whiskey over those cakes." If that's not a true Southern tale, we don't know what is.

Cassandra’s “Light” Fruitcake
Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl; Food Styling: Anna Hampton
Active Time:
35 mins
Rest Time:
1 day
Total Time:
4 hrs 40 mins
16 to 20 serves -


  • 3 cups chopped mixed dried fruit (such as cherries, apricots, dates, prunes, and apples)

  • 1 cup chopped dried candied pineapple

  • 1/2 cup currants

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (or more to taste)

  • 1 1/2 cups brandy or bourbon, divided

  • 1 cup unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 5 large eggs

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups pecans, chopped

  • Cheesecloth


  1. Combine the mixed dried fruit (including pineapple and currants) and crystallized ginger in a large bowl. Stir together with 1 cup brandy or bourbon; cover and set the mixture aside for 2 hours to infuse the dried fruit.

  2. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Grease a tube pan with cooking spray. Meanwhile, cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl, and beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir in the vanilla extract. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a large wooden spoon or spatula, stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until thoroughly combined (do not beat with a mixer).

  3. Stir in the soaked fruit mixture and chopped pecans. The mixture will be thick.

  4. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tube pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the fruitcake comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack, about 45 minutes.

  5. Soak a layer of cheesecloth in enough brandy or bourbon to thoroughly moisten (about 1/2 cup). Wrap the fruitcake in the cheesecloth, and then wrap it in aluminum foil. Set aside to rest for at least 24 hours before serving to allow the flavors to soak in.

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