November 22, 2017

Victorian Fruit Cake Recipe: Tasty and Tasteful

Image courtesy of Sarah Chrisman.

Image courtesy of Sarah Chrisman.

This recipe for a Victorian fruit cake skips the poor-quality candied fruit that gives some pre-made modern fruitcakes a bad reputation (especially in the US). Instead, fresh coconut, citron and almonds fill this cake to bursting with natural flavors and textures. 

This holiday season, Genealogy Gems Book Club featured author Sarah Chrisman is helping us celebrate all things Victorian, especially recipes! Keep reading to find links to the Victorian holiday recipes we’ve shared recently. In this post: a fruit cake that lives up to its history as a rich, flavorful dessert that’s worthy of the season.

Image courtesy of Sarah Chrisman.

Image courtesy of Sarah Chrisman.

Sarah Chrisman shared this recipe for a white fruit cake with us, along with this picture of her cracking a coconut in preparation for making this dish:

“Stir to a cream one pound of butter and one pound of powdered sugar. Add the beaten yolks of twelve eggs, one pound of flour and two teaspoons of baking powder. Grate one coconut, blanch and chop one-half pound of almonds, and slice one-half pound of citron and stir into the stiffly beaten white of the eggs and add to the batter. Put in pan lined with buttered paper, and bake slowly two hours.” -By Mrs. W.S. Standish, Plymouth Union Cook Book, 1894. pp. 56-57.



Here’s a quick video tutorial on how to blanch almonds:

What is citron? It’s a citrus fruit that is something like a lemon. According to this blog post on using citron in fruitcakes, it’s not always easy to find fresh citrons, but you can ask at your best local markets for a supplier near you or look for high-quality prepared citron that can be shipped to you.

More Victorian holiday recipes

victorian-coasting-cookiesHomemade cranberry sauce and hearty vegetable hash

Victorian pumpkin pie: light and delectable

Coasting cookies (shown here)

Traditional (and tasty) fig pudding

this-victorian-lifeGenealogy Gems Book Club featured author Sarah Chrisman will join host Lisa Louise Cooke in the December Genealogy Gems and Genealogy Gems Premium podcasts to talk about her everyday Victorian lifestyle. Check out her memoir, This Victorian Life: Modern Adventures in Nineteenth-Century Culture, Cooking, Fashion and Technologies or several other books she’s written about the era (both fiction and nonfiction).

About Sunny

Sunny Morton is a genealogy writer whose work is read by thousands in magazines and online. As a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems, she frequently posts on the news, but also loves to share quick research tips, reveal little-known resources or take genealogists for an exhilarating dive into deeper research topics and techniques. She's also the author of My Life & Times: A Guided Journal for Collecting Your Stories.


  1. Beverly Hollenbeck says:

    I wonder if “citron ” here is what we call citron today, lemon or even lime. At various times and places, the word has meant different things. I detest American-style fruitcake. This no im going to try this this year. Will do some research, since I’ve not seen citron here in Alaska store in years.

    Love your site!

    Happy Holidays

  2. Hi Beverly, Thanks for your comment. That’s a good question: I’ll see if I’m able to come up with an answer for you (or someone more knowledgeable than I am to answer it).

  3. Beverly, Our featured author Sarah Chrisman responds to your question:
    “There’s actually a picture of a fresh citron in the photo of the fruitcake next to the recipe. The citron is that yellow, ‘fingered’ fruit by the almonds. In America and England citrons are mostly used in fruitcake as a candied ingredient. In Asia and in Jewish culture, citrons have religious significance. (As I understand it, Asian cultures prefer the ‘fingered’ variety, like the one in my picture, whereas the citron used in Jewish rituals is the ‘closed-hand’ variety, but both of these are variations of the same fruit.) Here are some articles that tell more about them:”

    Buddha’s hand: citron as a temple offering for happiness in Asian cultures:

    Etrog: citron as a blessing in the Jewish Sukkot festival:

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