Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Cake Recipe

Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Cake
Yields: 1 Serving Difficulty: Medium Prep Time: 15 Mins Cook Time: 2 Hr Total Time: 2 Hr 15 Mins

Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Cake is a delicious and easy-to-make cake that is perfect for any occasion. It is made by boiling dried fruits, nuts, sugar, butter, and brandy in a saucepan, then adding eggs and flour to make a moist and rich batter. The cake is baked in a loaf tin for about two hours, until golden and fragrant. This cake can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week, or sliced and served with cream or custard. Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Cake is a traditional British recipe that was featured on the BBC show Hairy Bikers’ Meals on Wheels

What is Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Cake?

The Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Cake is a classic British dessert crafted by the renowned TV personalities and chefs, the Hairy Bikers. Unlike the usual fruit cakes, this particular recipe involves boiling fruits with sugar, margarine, water, and brandy before introducing the flour and eggs. The result is a moist, sticky, and deeply flavorful cake, enriched with an assortment of fruits, nuts, and spices.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy Preparation: No need for overnight soaking or tedious creaming. Boiling the ingredients does all the magic.
  • Rich Flavor: The combination of brandied fruits, nuts, and aromatic spices ensures every bite is a burst of flavor.
  • Versatility: This cake suits any occasion, from Christmas feasts to Sunday brunches or simply a treat alongside your evening tea.

Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Ingredients

To make the Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 900g/2lb mixed fruit, raisins, sultanas, chopped nuts and walnuts
  • 350g/12oz sugar
  • 350g/12oz margarine
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 250ml/9fl oz cold water
  • 250ml/9fl oz brandy
  • 240g/8½oz plain flour
  • 240g/8½oz self-raising flour
  • 4 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 x 200g/7oz tub glacé cherries, chopped

How to make the boiled fruit cake?

Making the boiled fruit cake is easy and fun. You only need a few basic tools and ingredients.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

Step 1: Preheat the oven and prepare the loaf tins

First, you need to preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 3. Then, you need to grease and line three loaf tins with parchment paper. This will prevent the cake from sticking to the pan and make it easier to remove.

Step 2: Boil the fruit mixture

Next, you need to place the mixed fruit and nuts, sugar, margarine, bicarbonate of soda, water, and brandy in a large pan and bring it to a boil. You need to simmer it for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will soften the fruit and nuts and dissolve the sugar.

Then, you need to take the pan off the heat and let it cool for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the mixture to thicken slightly.

Step 3: Add the remaining ingredients

Once the mixture has cooled down, you need to add the plain flour, self-raising flour, eggs, baking powder, mixed spice, and cherries. You need to mix well until everything is well combined.

Step 4: Pour into the loaf tins and bake

Finally, you need to pour the batter into the prepared loaf tins and smooth the top with a spatula. You need to bake them for two hours or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

What Do I Serve With Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Cake?

The beauty of this cake lies in its versatility.

You can:

  • Enjoy it plain to relish its rich taste.
  • Serve with a dollop of clotted cream or cream cheese for added richness.
  • Accompany with a scoop of vanilla or rum raisin ice cream.
  • Drizzle with a caramel or berry sauce for an elevated dessert experience.

Pro Tips to Make the Perfect Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Cake

  1. Quality Ingredients: Always use high-quality dried fruits and nuts for the best flavors.
  2. Monitor Boiling Time: Ensure you simmer the fruit mixture just for the recommended time to retain the fruit’s texture.
  3. Test for Doneness: Insert a skewer into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s ready.
  4. Cool Completely: Before slicing, let the cake cool completely to maintain its texture and structure.

How Do I Freeze and Store Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Cake?


  • Once cooled, transfer the cake to an airtight container.
  • Keep at room temperature for up to two weeks or refrigerate for up to two months.


  • Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
  • Place inside a freezer bag, squeezing out as much air as possible.
  • Label with the date and freeze for up to six months.

How Do I Reheat Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Cake?

  • Preheat your oven to 150°C/300°F.
  • Place the cake on a baking sheet and warm in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until heated through. This will restore the cake’s moisture and flavor.
  • Alternatively, for individual slices, a few seconds in the microwave will do the trick. Just ensure not to overheat, as it might make the cake too dry.

Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Cake


Each serving provides:

  • Calories: 587.5 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 99.4 g
  • Protein: 6.6 g
  • Fat: 19.4 g
  • Saturated fat: 9.8 g
  • Trans fat: 1 g
  • Cholesterol: 75.8 mg
  • Sodium: 621.1 mg
  • Fiber: 1.5 g
  • Sugar: 38.4 g

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What’s the difference between the Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Cake and a traditional fruit cake?

The primary distinction lies in the preparation method. The Hairy Bikers Boiled Fruit Cake involves boiling the fruits with sugar, margarine, water, and brandy before adding the flour and eggs, leading to a moist and sticky cake texture. Traditional fruit cakes often require fruits to be soaked overnight and a creaming method for butter and sugar, resulting in a different texture and flavor profile.

Can I substitute the brandy with another alcohol or liquid in the recipe?

Yes, you can! If you prefer another type of alcohol, rum or whiskey can be good alternatives. For a non-alcoholic version, you can use fruit juice (like apple or orange) or simply water. However, remember that the type of liquid you use will influence the cake’s final flavor.

My cake seems too dense. What could have gone wrong?

There could be several reasons for a denser cake. Overmixing the batter once the flour is added can lead to gluten development, resulting in a denser texture. Also, ensure that your baking powder is fresh and active, as expired or stale baking powder can affect the cake’s rise.

Can I use a variety of dried fruits and nuts in the boiled fruit cake?

Absolutely! One of the joys of this cake is its adaptability. While there’s a classic mix mentioned in the Hairy Bikers recipe, feel free to customize the combination based on your preferences. From apricots to macadamia nuts, the choices are endless, but ensure the overall quantity remains consistent with the recipe.

Final Words

The Hairy Bikers boiled fruit cake is a classic and delicious cake that you should definitely try. It’s easy to make, moist and flavorful, versatile and adaptable, and perfect for any occasion.

I hope you enjoyed this article and learned something new. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know in the comment section below.

Thank you for reading and happy baking!

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