Mary Berry’s Family Fruit cake gets the Eating for Ireland treatment!

Mary Berrys family fruit cake (2)

Mary Berry's cake (6)

It all started with a visit to some of our oldest and dearest friends. Five of us sitting around, drinking coffee, eating scones, and laughing a lot. The talk turned to cooking and Fruit cake may have been mentioned.

Fast-forward 24 hours, and I asked Mr Saturday Night what kind of a cake he’d like for his birthday. Imagine my surprise when he requested a fruit cake – proving in just a few words that you never actually know anyone.. I never knew that he was particularly fond of fruit cakes, but there you go.. Keeping me on my toes for another year!

And this leads us rapidly, dear reader, to today’s recipe.

Naturally – yes, you know what I’m going to say – I simply can’t leave anything alone, even a Mary Berry recipe. But I’m not a huge fan of glace cherries, and we’re a nut-free household, so what’s a girl to do? I’ve given you the original ingredients, and my alternatives; that should do it.

Fruitcakes can make us nervous – memories of stressed Mothers making Wedding or Christmas cakes may loom large, but never fear, this one simply could not be easier – Put all the ingredients into a *large* bowl, and beat it all together, stick it in a tin, and bake it. Ta-da!  * see NOTES*

It’s what my Mother would have called a ‘light’ fruitcake. That means that it doesn’t have any treacle in it, so it’s light coloured. It has a lovely flavour too.

Come on- let’s get a to it! My thanks to our beloved Billy, for giving me this recipe! We love you two!! :)


  • A very large bowl, preferably attached to an electric mixer – I used my Kenwood for this, as it’s a very large recipe. You could mix it by hand of course, but it would be hard work.
  • A 23cm/9inch round cake tin, greased and lined, and then lined with cardboard on the outside. The extra 2 minutes adding the card covering is well worth it.

Mary Berrys fruit cake (4)

  • a weighing scales
  • a spatula


  • 225g Margarine (I use Golden Cow in a tub)
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 350g Self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 75g Glace Cherries, quartered (I used the same weight of dried Cranberries)
  • 450g Mixed fruit – I used a bag of gourmet Mixed fruit, removed the cherries, and replaced them with stone-free prunes, cut up into 4 or 6 pieces.
  • 2 tablespoonfuls of Marmalade – rind chopped up if in large pieces.
  • 4 large eggs
  • a good handful of sliced almonds – optional


  • Heat the oven to 140ºFan, or the equivalent.
  • Consult your oven information for the best place to cook a large fruit cake – in my oven it’s the very bottom shelf.
  • Prepare the cake tin. Leave to one side.
  • Go through the list of ingredients – put each item into the bowl, then check the list again to make sure that everything is in.

Mary Berrys fruit cake (7)

  • Switch on your mixer, slowly at first as the ingredients come together, then just slightly faster until everything looks well mixed.
  • Using a spatula or wooden spoon, give the cake mixture a few turns to make sure everything is mixed as it should be.
  • Transfer the mixture into your prepared tin and level it out.

Mary Berry's cake (5)

  • If you’re using the almonds, sprinkle them over the top now and pat them down gently.
  • Bake for about 2 hours, turning the tin round after 1 hour.
  • Start testing at about 110 minutes with a cake tester or fine knitting needle (that’s what my Mum used) and check every 10 minutes until it comes out with no sticky residue. Remember that it may be sticky because you’ve hit a piece of fruit, so try a few different areas.
  •  When you’re satisfied that it’s done, remove from the oven and let it rest on a cooling rack for 10 minutes or so, then remove it from the tin and allow to cool completely.

Mary Berrys family fruit cake (2)


  • Not too many notes – this is an easy recipe.
  • Not too many pictures either – this is a very easy recipe!
  • But not easy enough for me apparently! On only my second making of this I forgot to add the sugar – most of the batter was in the cake tin at that stage, so I rolled my eyes and sprinkled some soft brown sugar on the top, hoping that the fruit would make it sweet enough.. UPDATE: The cake actually came out fine, but the lack of sugar encouraged me to butter it, and guess what – it’s delicious with butter too!
  • Please do use the outer cardboard covering for the tin – it means that the cake doesn’t dry out around the edges during its long, slow bake. I use a couple of pieces of cardboard that came in packaging – nothing fancy at all, and I keep it, and the twine for next time too!
  • The original recipe had a 2¼ hour baking time, but mine was done at about 1hour 50 minutes today, so do check, and listen to your instincts -if you can smell it from the living room, chances are it’s done! Believe it or not, that is one of my triggers to check a cake!



I started writing down recipes in an old copybook when I was about 16. With 6 children at home, my Mother was always glad of a hand in the kitchen, and really allowed us to experiment - as long as we washed up afterwards, and left the kitchen immaculate! Having a tidy kitchen has followed me through my life, as has the habit of writing down my favourite recipes; except that these days I write them for my website, and add photographs when I can. The website really started when it occurred to me that my daughter might like to have these recipes when I've forgotten them. In my early days of cooking for family and friends, I used to phone my Mum all the time to ask her for the recipe for some of our favourite family dinners. She rarely had a recipe to hand - I think, like me, she made a lot of it up as she went along.. So welcome to Eating for Ireland - these are the recipes that my friends and family having been eating these past 40 years.. yes, I truly am ancient! They are tried and tested, and have worked for me for all that time - I have updated them as new ingredients became available - I really hope you'll find something that you can make into a family favourite of your own. You don't have to tell anyone where you found these great new dishes that you're serving up - it can be our little secret, but I'd really love it if you could give me a sneaky 'follow' on Facebook and Instagram.. So off you go - have a good rummage around, you're bound to find something new! My sincere thanks to all of you who have found a recipe that you liked and dropped me a line to tell me - I really do love to hear from you! Happy Cooking! Becks xx

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