Peculiar Fruit Cake


This is our favourite fruit cake recipe, adapted from one passed to us by some friends. Soaking the dried fruit in beer for at least overnight adds a depth of flavour which we really enjoy.  Even though the alcohol cooks out, if you want a completely alcohol free version, soak the fruit in 500ml of tea made with 3 tea bags.


  • 1 1/2 cups Sultanas
  • 1 1/2 cups Currants
  • 1 1/2 cups Raisins
  • 1/4 cup mixed peel

The 4 ingredients listed above can be replaced with 4 3/4 cups of Mixed Dried Fruit

  • 1 1/2 cups or 240g chopped dates
  • 1 500ml bottle of Theakstons Old Peculiar, or a similar more traditional beer.
  • 225g butter softened
  • 1 cup or 220g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups standard plain flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • The zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp almond essence

Combine the first 5 ingredients (or the mixed dried fruit and dates) with the Theakstons Old Peculiar in a large bowl and leave the bowl covered in cling film overnight in a warm place. If you can, leave the mix for 24 hours to fully soak up the beer!


The next day cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.


Add the eggs one and at a time, mixing well after each egg. Don’t worry if it looks like it is about to curdle, this is normal, and all will be well once some flour has been added.


Sift flour and baking powder together into the mix and mix well.


I find that if I add the flour slowly, mixing every so often, I don’t end up covered in flour!


Add the lemon zest, vanilla and almond extract and mix well.

Add the soaked fruit and mix well.

Line 2 loaf tins, or a normal deep 8 or 9 inch round or square cake tin with baking paper. I have found these fantastic loaf tin liners from Sainsburys and Lakeland, which fit our loaf tins.

Spoon the mixture into the tins.


Bake at 140 ˚C for 2-3 hours or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

The ones here took exactly 2 hours, but I find that the time does vary depending on how long the fruit was soaked for. Leave to cool in the tin.

These cakes do taste very nice when they have cooled, but if you can wait for a day or two, they do improve with age.

If you want to turn this recipe into a last minute Christmas cake, then I can recommend using a Christmas beer, such as Santa’s Wobble (also known as Still Wobbling) from the Hogs Back Brewery.

This cake, which was used for a competition at my sons preschool, was made using this recipe!

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2 Responses to Peculiar Fruit Cake

  1. Gary says:

    This is a fantastic friutcake, the Theakstons really adds a
    depth to the flavor.YumYum

    • Alison Jacques says:

      thanks for this recipe my boyfriend didn’t finish his beer and I soaked some fruit in it then needed the recipe – I’m going to try this now!

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