Light fruit cake with brandy sauce

In the past, Christmas lunch in our family was an event of 50 to 60 relatives, friends and neighbours, held on the back lawn of my grandparents’ house under the enormous old pecan-nut trees.

Light fruit cake with brandy sauce
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As a five-year-old child peeking at the turkey in the oven, I proudly stated to my grandfather that we were roasting a ‘hoo hoo’.

Today, Christmas lunch is a much more modest event, but a tradition we still keep is that my grandmother and I bake fruit cakes to give to family and friends.

We go through 2kg of glacé cherries and make about 10 cakes. Most of the preserves are home-made by my grandmother during the year.

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She and I have always done the cakes on our own together, while remembering how she pulled off the feat of serving 60 guests, and laughing at the five-year-old me thinking a turkey goes ‘hoo hoo’. – Vian Roos, FW art director

Makes a 30mm round cake

Ingredients for a light fruit cake:

  • 250g butter
  • 200g sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 5ml vanilla
  • 25ml brandy
  • 500g cake flour
  • 10ml baking powder
  • 2ml salt250g glacé cherries (halved)
  • 50g pecan nuts (chopped)
  • 250g light sultana raisins
  • 50g ginger preserve (cut to the same size as the halved cherries)
  • 100g melon preserve (cut to the same size as the halved cherries)
  • 150g preserved citrus rind


  1. Cream together the sugar and butter.
  2. Add the eggs one by one, mixing continuously.
  3. Add the vanilla and brandy after all the eggs have been added. Mix well.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt before adding to the butter-sugar mixture.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients in well.
  6. Add the preserved fruit to the rest of the batter. Mix everything well until the fruit is distributed evenly throughout the batter.
  7. Bake for three hours at 160°C in a round pan.

Brandy Sauce

  • 50ml butter
  • 200ml sugar
  • 25ml brandy
  • 2 eggs (separated)
  • 125ml cream


  1. Mix the butter and 100ml of the sugar until creamy, then gradually incorporate the brandy.
  2. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, while adding the rest of the sugar.
  3. Whisk the yolks separately and then mix in the cream.
  4. Add the butter and sugar mixture to the cream and yolk mixture, and mix well.
  5. Heat the sauce mixture over a double burner until it starts to thicken to the consistency of custard.
  6. Finally, fold the egg white mixture into the sauce.