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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

150+ Year Old Hodges-Thomas Fruitcake Recipe

I know, I know, everyone hates fruitcake...but I just had to add this to my blog.  My grandmother used to make this cake every year after Thanksgiving, and put it in the refrigerator until Christmas.  My grandmother’s family has made this cake for Christmas for more than 150 years...my great, great, great grandmother used to make this, and she was born in 1818.  Measurements are not as precise as in modern recipes, and old terms are used.  “Sweet milk” is a Southern description for whole milk.  They used it to differentiate from buttermilk.
I do not know it's origin...but my heritage is British/Celtic.  This is not like a standard fruitcake.  It makes layers, with a  filling/frosting.  The ingredients/measurements have been refined very little from the original.   If you try it, let me know what you think.

6 eggs
1 C butter, softened
2 C sugar
3 C flour
1 C sweet milk (Southern for whole milk)
1 TBS baking powder
2 TBS allspice; ginger; cloves
1 TBS cinnamon

1 coconut, grated
1# raisins-put half in cake batter
1# currents-put half in cake batter
1# English walnuts, coarsely chopped
1# Brazil nuts, coarsely chopped
2 C blackberry jam
3 C sugar
½ C sweet milk
½ C butter

Cake: Cream butter and sugar; add eggs one at a time.  Mix dry ingredients and alternate adding to sugar mixture with the milk, starting and ending with flour mixture.  Blend in raisins and currents.  Pour into 4 greased and floured cake pans.  There are no baking instructions for this very old recipe, because it was originally baked in wood burning stoves, other than ‘bake until “straw” inserted in center of layer comes out clean’. (Bake at 350* for about 25-30 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting toothpick into center of layer.  (When it comes out clean, layer is done.)
Filling/Frosting: Put butter, sugar and milk in large pot, cook “a while” (until sugar melts).  Add rest of ingredients and cook, stirring, for “a while longer” (about 10 minutes).  Spread between layers, and then cover outside of cake with mixture.  Make cake a couple of weeks before Christmas and cover and refrigerate.


  1. I just think it's so great that you have these cherished family hand-me-down recipes! What a treasure!!

  2. I think this one is awesome. My grandmother,who would be 124 years old, told me about her great-grandmother making it at Christmas. I love the idea that they cooked it in a wood stove...I cannot imagine how they managed that! When I was little my grandmother still used one.. perfect fried chicken and biscuits every time though!