The BBC Good Food logo
Classic winter fruitcake

Classic winter fruitcake

A star rating of 5 out of 5.4 ratingsRate
Magazine subscription – choose a brand-new cookbook from Jamie Oliver, Mary Berry and Nadiya Hussain
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
  • Easy
  • Enough icing for the top

This festive icing is easy to use, looks amazing and makes a lighter end to a meal. The perfect centrepiece for Christmas tea

low insalt0g


For the decoration

  • 1 egg white
  • 50g caster sugar
  • small bunch black grapes
  • holly or bay leaves
  • 20cm/8 inch round fruitcake
  • 1-2 clementines
  • 1-2 just ripe figs
  • a few kumquat
  • a few physalis (Cape gooseberries)
  • approx 65cm red or gold ribbon

For the frosting

  • 2 egg whites
  • 175g icing sugar


  • STEP 1

    Lightly beat the egg white in a shallow bowl and spread out the caster sugar on a baking sheet or tray. Dip the grapes and the holly or bay leaves into the egg white, or use a paintbrush. Shake off the excess, then coat in the sugar. Set aside to dry for at least 10 mins, ideally about 30 mins.

  • STEP 2

    When you’re ready to decorate, make the frosting. Put a large bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Put the egg whites and icing sugar into the bowl and whisk for 5-7 mins until you have a thick, very glossy frosting. Use a spatula to clean around the edges of the bowl every so often as you whisk. Scoop the frosting onto the top of the cake and spread it around with a flat-edged knife, swirling as you go to create a snowy effect (see Knowhow, below).

  • STEP 3

    Halve the clementines, figs and kumquats, then arrange on top of the frosted cake with the physalis, frosted grapes and leaves. Fix a ribbon around the base and leave the cake somewhere cool – but not the fridge – until your guests arrive.


This type of frosting is essentially a meringue, with the egg being cooked by the heat of the water it’s whisked over. For a deep, swirled topping, dollop a few good spoonfuls of the frosting on top, then gently paddle the frosting out to the sides of the cake with a palette or a flat-edged knife. The frosting is more forgiving than other icings in case you make a mistake, although try to avoid moving it around more than 5 minutes after putting it on the cake.


OK, so the fruit probably won’t last more than a day but the point of this cake is that it looks fabulous and is a cinch to put together when time is short. You can also add fresh cranberries, pomegranate seeds or still-intheir skin lychees. If you’re really stuck for time this is also a great way to transform a plain bought fruitcake – but that can be your own little secret!

Goes well with

Recipe from Good Food magazine, December 2007

Comments, questions and tips

Rate this recipe

What is your star rating out of 5?

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Overall rating

A star rating of 5 out of 5.4 ratings

Sponsored content