Fruitcake (vrugtekoek)

South Africans love fruitcake, especially very fruity ones. They are common during the Christmas season, but fruitcake lovers tend to bake and serve it throughout the year. This is one of our favourite fruitcake recipes: it consists mostly of fruit, is quite moist, and a bit spicy. It is a flexible recipe, so you can use your favourite fruits and flavours.


860 to 900 gram fruit:

Example 1:

  • 500 gram glazed fruit cake mix
  • 125 gram pitted dates (chopped)
  • 50 gram currants
  • 100 gram seedless raisins or sultanas
  • 50 gram cherries (pitted and quartered)
  • 25 gram glazed mixed peel
  • 50 gram nuts (roughly chopped)

Example 2:

  • 500 gram glazed fruit mix
  • 200 gram glazed fruit (roughly chopped) or fruit preserve, such as ginger, fig, pineapple, watermelon
  • 120 gram pitted dates (chopped)
  • 40 gram cherries (pitted and quartered)
  • 50 gram nuts (roughly chopped)

The rest of the ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoon (7 ml) vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon (3 ml) baking soda
  • 1 ½ cup (160 gr) flour
  • 1 ml salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (3 ml) mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon (3 ml) cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon (3 ml) ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) grated nutmeg
  • Dash of clove
  • 100 gram butter
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) sugar (if you are going to use mainly glazed fruits, you can use less sugar)
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) golden syrup
  • 3 eggs


  1. Soak fruit in 7 tablespoons (100 ml) brandy overnight in an airtight container.
  2. Line a deep 20 cm round or square cake tin with three layers of baking paper. Make a
    lid by stapling baking paper to thin cardboard or thick brown paper.
  3. Mix lemon juice, vanilla and baking soda in a small bowl, cover with cling wrap and set aside.
  4. Into a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, mixed spice, cinnamon, ginger, grated nutmeg and a dash of clove.
  5. Cream butter and sugar.
  6. Add golden syrup and eggs, and then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Beat well.
  7. Add lemon juice, vanilla and baking soda combination
  8. Add fruit, mix well, and pour into baking tin.
  9. Bake 4 ½ hours at 120°C.
  10. To prevent the cake from getting too dark, cover it with the lid after two hours.
  11. The cake is ready when a knife comes out clean.
  12. Let it cool down somewhat and dose with about 80 ml brandy.


You can wrap it in foil to ripen for a few weeks, which is the traditional way, but we usually start eating our fruitcake on the same day.