Edna’s boiled pineapple cake

My Mum was given this recipe years ago by Edna Thomas. Edna was a customer of the nursery that my parents own and was known for always coming in for a bit of a chat. She was Welsh and very proud of her heritage and always had a good story to tell. I’m not quite sure how she came to pass this recipe – probably as a result of a discussion with my Mum about the enormous quantities of fruit cake that were consumed on a daily basis in our household. We used to have a big Tupperware box that had a large made-to-measure fruit cake in it. This cake generally had to be replaced every two to three days.

Hels has been passed this recipe by Mum – I think Mum wanted to be sure that her son’s wife would amply provide for his needs and clearly chief amongst those needs is the need for cake. My Mum knows me well.

Edna’s boiled pineapple cake (as slightly amended by Hels)

This recipe is sufficient for two 2lb loaf tins, with liners.


330g/12oz dark soft brown sugar
660g/24oz mixed dried fruit or raisins (we prefer Waitrose Vine Fruits from their Wholesome range)
110g/4oz glacé cherries or soft dried apricots (we use apricots)
Large (435g) can of pineapple pieces in juice
440g/1lb self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs, beaten
220g/8oz margarine
110g/4 oz chopped walnuts
walnut halves to decorate the top of the cakes
1½ tbsp sherry (optional)

  • Using a large saucepan over a low heat, add the sugar, dried fruit, pineapple (complete with juice), butter and cherries/apricots.
  • Bring to the boil (do not leave unattended or it will burn!), stirring thoroughly.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Sieve the flour together with the baking powder.
  • Add eggs, chopped walnuts and flour/baking powder to the saucepan. Mix thoroughly.
  • Add the sherry and stir in.
  • Divide the mixture equally between the two lined loaf tins.
  • Bake at 140 – 150°C for 60 to 90 minutes (we have a fan oven – adjust accordingly for conventional ovens). Check with a skewer after 50 minutes (if the skewer comes out clean, then they are done or nearly done). If the cakes are going too brown on top, cover with tin foil before cooking for the remaining time.

Why two cakes at once? Well, experience has shown that these cakes are great for freezing and some (i.e. my Mum) would say that they actually improve if frozen. So we generally have one for immediate consumption and another “stashed”.

Pineapple pieces work best. Rings can be chopped up or that pineapple “crush” can be used, but both give less satisfactory results, probably because the fruit-to-juice ratio is different.

7 Replies to “Edna’s boiled pineapple cake”

  1. We’ve done walnut-free versions before and it is just fine – Tom loves fruit cake but doesn’t like walnuts (or any nuts for that matter, which is probably a good thing at this stage – he can get into nuts when he’s a bit older), so we usually end up picking the nuts out of his slices. You could decorate with almonds if it is walnuts that you don’t like or leave it completely nut-free – I don’t think you need to increase the quantity of anything else to compensate (maybe a few extra cherries?).

  2. So Tom is destined to end up not only with the family nose, but also the family belly! And yes, I know I can’t blame mine entirely on fruit cake.

  3. Ah. We have a fan oven, so you might need to use a higher temperature if you have a conventional oven – but that is the temperature that we use.

  4. Fruit Cakes are quite addictive and my mom always bake them every month.~-;

    MOD UPDATE: marketing links removed. Don’t spam grayblog, thank you.

  5. Further update: we now sub the margarine with butter, and tend to use mostly organic ingredients. We’ve also found that rum can be used instead of sherry – though I think sherry is better.

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