How to make a cake with just 3 ingredients, or maybe even 2! For when the SHTF?

Apr 21, 2017 | 37 comments


This is the recipe for the three ingredient cake I talked about recently on Facebook.

Three ingredient cake

It’s quite a thing around the internet although I’ve only just come across it. There are different versions here, here and here. Google ‘three ingredient cake’ to find more.

I was very tempted to call it SHTF cake. It is a great thing to have in your repertoire when times have got particularly tough. You could even make it with just two ingredients, the fruit and flour, and use water to moisten. It will fill hungry people with something tasty when there is little to be had.

Having said that, I don’t want to undersell it. It’s a perfectly acceptable cake for its own sake.

I used this version here

Three Ingredient Fruit Cake




Three ingredient fruit cake

The verdict

Slice of cake
For a cake with so little in it, this is remarkably tasty. It is a solid, Christmas cake like texture, veering towards bread pudding. I really liked it. A piece was good on its own, and super scrummy spread with a generous amount of cold, salted butter. It would probably be lovely fried in a bit of butter too, and maybe served with custard, cream or ice cream.



I used cold tea as recommended in the recipe I used, but I can’t say that I could taste it.

I didn’t have a bag of mixed fruit but I did have various bits and pieces of dried fruit and used sultanas, currants, apricots, figs and prunes, plus a handful of hazelnuts on the verge of being too old to use. I would also be more than happy to use just one type of fruit

You could use absolutely any mix of dried fruit and it would work well.

The liquid can be tea, coffee, apple juice, orange juice or any fruit juice you like, milk, chocolate milk, a herbal tea. Anything you like really.

Add some mixed spice or cinnamon for a winter flavour. Stir it in, stick your nose in the bowl and smell the mixture. You should be able to tell by the aroma if you have added enough or need to add a bit more.

Add some chopped nuts, walnuts, almonds or maybe salted peanuts

Three ingredient fruit cake

3 ingredient cake

5 from 5 votes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
dairy free by Olguioo from the Noun Project
Dairy Free
low saturated fat by Yoyon Pujiyono from the Noun Project
Low Fat
No Nuts by Llisole from the Noun Project
Nut Free
vegan by Guilherme Furtado from the Noun Project
Vegetarian by Philipp Petzka from the Noun Project
Servings: 16 slices
Cost per portion 11p
Calories: 162kcal
Click on the check box to cross off Equipment, Ingredients or Recipe Steps completed.
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  • 600 g dried fruit mixed, with peel, around £1.74
  • 600 ml liquid I used cold tea
  • 300 g flour self raising, 45p value flour/1.5kg, 9p


  • In a large bowl, mix the mixed fruit and liquid together and leave to soak overnight.
  • Please don’t miss out this step, you will get an unsatisfactory result if you do.
  • The next day, stir through the flour.
  • The mix needs to be just moist, it’s not very wet. I added a bit too much liquid and had to cook it for a good bit longer.
  • Put it all in a prepared 20cm tin (lined or buttered), and bake at 160°C for 1 hour or until cooked through.
  • Click here to start a 1 hour timer
  • Test this with a sharp knife pushed in the cake. If it comes out dry, the cake is done, if wet, cook it for a bit longer.
  • Leave to firm in the tin for a bit, then remove and leave to cool on a rack.
  • Slice when cold and store in an airtight container, or in the freezer.


Nutrition Facts
3 ingredient cake
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @ThriftyLesley or tag #ThriftyLesley !



  1. Lucille

    5 stars
    It’s a wonde4ful recipe.

  2. Eric

    5 stars
    It was nice to go through your post. Thanks for sharing the recipe here. Keep up the good work.

  3. Paula Higgleton-Wood

    Have just put this in the oven as our 2022 Christmas cake. I’ll feed it a bit of booze then put on a bit of marzipan and some cheap ready to roll icing. Looking forward to it and I’ll let you know how it turns out. :0)

  4. Thrifty Lesley

    Baishakhi – Glad you liked it. I haven’t made it for a while, may be time I did!

  5. Baishakhi

    I love this. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  6. Thrifty Lesley

    I know, I couldn’t quite believe that it would work when I first came across it!

  7. Ann-Marie

    5 stars
    Just tried this using Soya milk as the liquid. Delicious! Who’d have thought it would be so good with so few ingredients.

  8. Thrifty Lesley

    Glad you liked it! It’s a versatile one too, flavours can be varied by using different fruit, different liquid and adding citrus zest or spice

  9. Liz

    Thanks Leslie. Very simple which is necessary for a novice baker like me yet the family loved it.

    And as a volunteer frugalist ( practicing for if and when needed) it’s good to have some tricks like a cheapy cake recipe up my sleeve.

    Thanks again

  10. Wean Mullinder

    I like the sound of breakfast pancakes !
    As you say, if it is so filling, it would be worth the outlay.
    Thank you

  11. Lesley

    I don’t know of any. The idea is that you only have to buy 2 ingredients. The smaller cake uses 600g.
    The cake is dense and supplies lots of calories, so could fill you up when times are hard
    Using the same two ingredients you could make breakfast pancakes if you need to stretch the fruit further
    If you reduce the fruit in the cake, you’d need to add eggs or it would be too dense
    Have you any suggestions? Very happy to hear them

  12. Wean Mullinder

    This looks delicious – I can amost taste it ! BUT if you are watching the pennies and have hit hard times, surely 1 kg of dried fruit would be beyond your budget or not considered essential ? Are there other (cheaper) ingredients that could be used ?

  13. Lesley

    Pat – sounds yum, I love dates in cake

  14. Pat Parker

    I am making this now with mixed fruit and dates.Topped it with 8 whole cherries

  15. Lesley

    Great! Glad you liked it 🙂

  16. Beverley Harry

    Just made this and its delicious.

  17. Lesley

    Coffee – ooh, wouldn’t have thought of that. I’ve got some raisins soaking atm in some juice from a tin of approved food oranges

  18. alexandra

    I have been making this for years. I soak the fruit in a hot cup of coffee for 30 to 60 minutes, mix and bake. It makes a mocha fruit cake. Decaf works well too.

  19. Lesley

    I still have lots in the tin and it is maturing nicely 🙂

  20. Katy Stevens

    Now that is an absolute bargain! Never thought of using tea. Love it!

  21. Lesley

    Ooh, mulberries sounds good.

  22. Anna

    I made it and it is so easy and so good. Next time I am going to try using walnuts and some dried mulberries. A friend gave me a two pound package. I made granola with some of them and ate some but am going to try experimenting with the rest of them.

  23. Lesley

    Brilliant, so now we know those proportions work too!

  24. Vera George

    It worked out well! I put it in a silicone loaf pan, I should have sprayed first because it stuck a bit. But it worked well 🙂

  25. Lesley

    I’m sure it could be made with gluten free flour. It rose more than I expected, so I would use the self raising kind

  26. Lesley

    Miss piggy – There are lots of variations that appeal. Just dried apricots, with walnuts, and yes, maybe soaked in orange juice

  27. joyce

    Could this be made with gluten free flour?

  28. misspiggy

    Ooh I am definitely going to try this, thank you! Finding and measuring out lots of ingredients is hard for me, for various spoonie reasons, and this is much less intimidating. Thank you for the variation ideas – might try orange juice and tea…

  29. Lesley

    Let me know what you try and how you get on 🙂

  30. Lesley

    I think I remember seeing one post that put scoops in a muffin tin and baked them that way, but it had no temperature suggestion or timing
    A 23cm tin makes a small mountain of cake!

  31. Lesley

    I would go for a moderate heat, about 170c, and start testing at one hour

  32. Vera

    Fantastic! I am soaking 300 grams of fruit in 300 ml of orange juice. I ill add 1 cup flour. Ho long do you think I ill need to bake it for?

  33. Joy Clark

    I love the look of this, thank you. I’ll reduce the amounts down quite a lot and give it a good go.
    J x

  34. Angela Almond

    This looks great. I plan to try this next week when I get home from my holiday, thank you

  35. Lesley

    I was going to say Anna, I added some hazelnuts which worked well. Next time I think I would add walnuts. You could make lots of different tasting variations of it

  36. Anna

    Sorry! Missed the part where you talked about adding nuts!

  37. Anna

    Heading for the store right now to pick up currents. I have the rest of the ingredients. Do you think it would be okay to add some chopped nuts?


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