Pumpkin fruit cake


You know, I have never been a fan of fruit cake and I place the blame squarely on this recipe.

My mum was a take it or leave it type of person.  If you didn’t want what was on offer, then you could go without.  Many times I would be starving, as only a child can be, and I would ask mum, ‘What’s to eat?’  The answer was, invariably, ‘There is some pumpkin cake in the tin.’ There was always bloody pumpkin cake in the tin!!  For the whole of my childhood, I don’t remember there ever being another variety of cake in the tin.

Since my mum died, I have often wondered about this cake and why she made it, to the exclusion of all others.  I have two possible explanations.  Either it was my dad’s favourite and it went into his crib (as a cut lunch used to be called) every day or she knew we didn’t particularly like it and, therefore, it would last longer.

I can remember going to visit my Aunty Peg, who was not renowned for her cooking, and demolishing some cake that I thought was wonderful.  I told my mum it was the best thing I had ever tasted and she scornfully replied, ‘It is just a packet cake.’  There were never packet cakes in our house, only pumpkin cake.

Sometimes, if I was really hungry, I would have a slice of pumpkin cake.  It was o….k……

Most of us think our mother’s were great cooks but I do wonder sometimes.  Maybe, they just cooked a limited range of dishes really, really well.  In retrospect, I think my mum was in that category.  She sure could whip up a pumpkin cake.

As an adult, I must have asked mum for the recipe (as it is in my hand written collection of recipes) and I have, on occasion, made it (for sentimental reasons).

Because I am flush with pumpkins (about thirty of the buggers), the memory of this cake came racing back to me.  Damn it, I would make mum’s cake.  It is a great colour, is lovely and light for a fruit cake and, as with all cakes made with a vegetable, stays moist for an amazingly long time.  It really is quite a nice cake.  Maus and I don’t seem to be having any trouble demolishing it.

If you were not traumatised by fruit cake as a child and love a light moist cake, this one could be for you.  It most certainly was someone’s favourite cake in our household.


  • 12oz (340g) mixed fruit.  Mum used to buy a packet of mixed fruit but, as I had plenty of fruit on hand, I made up my own.  I used sultanas, cherries, cranberries and mixed peel.
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of mashed pumpkin, cold
  • 6oz (170g) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar


  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Sift the flours together and set aside.
  4. Add a small amount of the flour to the fruit to coat it to ensure all the fruit is separated then set aside.
  5. Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer.
  6. Add the eggs and beat well.
  7. Add the pumpkin.  Continue beating until well combined.
  8. Fold in the combined flour and then the fruit.
  9. Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin.
  10. Bake in your preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.

My notes say if the mixture is too stiff, ‘add a little milk’.  I guess it would depend on how dry your the pumpkin is.  I did not need to add any.


35 thoughts on “Pumpkin fruit cake

  1. Pingback: Widow’s kisses or Grown-ups’ meringues | Passion Fruit Garden

  2. Hi Glenda, I have been looking for an old fashioned pumpkin fruit cake, “just like my mother used to make” and it looks as if yours fits the bill. Unlike you, I loved my mums cake as it was always moist, however she made many different types of cakes so I never got sick of it. Lucky me!
    I must comment on your choice of words , i.e “crib”. I have never heard that used other than in our home or amongst our immediate family. My father was a miner, any similar connection?

    • Hi Trish, I think I was the only one who didn’t like mum’s cake. I thought, way back then, a cut lunch was always called a crib. My dad’s lunch was, anyway. He was a bus driver and before that, when he was very young, a shearer. I just looked up the Oxford Dictionary and it appears to be of Australian and NZ usage.

  3. Pingback: Pumpkin Fruit Cake | Food and Tools

  4. My mother was in the same category…if you didn’t find something you felt like eating, then too bad. She was a good baker though but I don’t remember her ever making anything with pumpkin other than pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I do like pumpkin though and have been on a pumpkin muffin roll.

    I’m with you though on a Kid’s perspective. Here we had all kinds of homemade cakes, pies, and cookies but all I wanted was a Twinkie or Hostess cupcake in my lunch like all the other kids.

    • Hi Diane. Pumpkin is interesting. It is very big in Australia. It is baked along with potatoes etc with roast chicken or lamb etc. It is also mashed with potatoes and used in cakes but, interestingly, pumpkin pie is not big. We do not have canned pumpkin like you do. The world is certainly different from a kid’s perspective give me mock cream on a fairy cake any day. 🙂

      • Oh no, I don’t think I’ve ever heard pumpkin used in those ways although pumpkin flavored things like muffins or coffee seem popular. I remember being so proud of myself one Thanksgiving & using a real pumpkin to make the pumpkin pie filling & telling my mother what a pain it was because it had so much liquid that had to be drained off. I always thought she’d make it from scratch herself until she told me “why don’t you just do what I do & open a can?”

        I’m laughing about the cream too – by mock cream do you mean the canned? My niece was at my mother’s & my mother gave her a piece of pie with fresh whipped cream but my niece said “Grammy, don’t you have the REAL stuff in the can?”

  5. I have never had a pumpkin fruit cake before and it looks very really delicious and a beautiful color. I was most likely traumatized by very dark and almost burnt fruit cakes that were served at weddings and christenings 🙂

    • Hi Moya, The cake is actually very nice but not from an eight year old’s perspective. I would have preferred a cup cake any day.

  6. Very funny memories! Do you like the cake better now as an adult? Maybe it’s something you have to grow into, maybe it’s just not exciting enough through a child’s eyes? 🙂

    • You are so right. As an eight year old child I would have preferred fairy cake with mock cream and hundreds and thousands :). I am not a great fan of fruit cake but as fruit cake goes, it is very nice.

  7. Sorry this wasn’t your favourite growing up Glenda, but I think your mom’s recipe is a winner!
    Have fun using up all them pumpkins.
    Have a happy week ahead.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  8. Hi Glenda – Made your Walnut Loaf & had it with some hot Custard. As you suggested ,I made the loaf with extra butter & used castor sugar. Did you receive photo???? Anyway I thought it turned out well.
    Your Fruit Cake is next on the list as I love Fruit Cake. You never know I could be making cakes for coffee shops to sell !!!! (yes I know, in my dreams. One can dream can’t they?)

  9. Morning Glenda
    I make this recipe all the time and everybody really enjoys it.
    Funny story; Bev rang up one day (about April this year) looking for a fruit cake recipe so I forwarded this on to her. In the mean time she had rummaged thru a box of old recipes and found a hand written one from about (she thinks) 1975 I had previously given her.
    Then next step in the story, she does volunteer work with some oldies in Bunbury (ringing/visiting for a chat etc) and one wanted a fruit cake recipe. So as Bev tells the story 75% of the senior citizens in Bunbury are now making Laurel Currie’s Pumpkin Fruit Cake.
    Thought you might like this.

  10. The G.O. is not a fan of fruit cake so when just after Christmas we met up with old friends for a morning tea picnic and my (honorary) Aunty Min produced pumpkin fruit cake still warm in the baking tin, I thought uh oh, the G.O. will pass on this but he likes Aunty Min and to my surprise accepted a piece, another, and another! It really is a lovely cake and I’m pleased you gave it another chance.

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