Eyeopener

Julie Van Rosendaal's Christmas fruitcake recipes

The Calgary Eyeopener's food expert Julie Van Rosendaal shares her recipe for a holiday cake that's quick and easy to make.

Fast and easy to make, think of these recipes as fruitcake for beginners

Julie Van Rosendaal's mincemeat Christmas cake takes less time and is more economical to make than a traditional fruitcake. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Fruitcake gets a bad rap — but does it really deserve its rotten reputation?

As a holiday baking tradition, it's the one dessert that inspires the most passionate debate. 

  • Do you love or loathe fruit cake? Leave your comments below.

Julie Van Rosendaal is an unapologetic fruitcake fan. She describes her mincemeat Christmas cake recipe as "fruitcake for beginners" — easier and faster to make than traditional fruitcake, but just as tasty. For a different take on fruitcake, her gingerbread fruitcake recipe is a half-and-half blend of the two holiday treats.

Mincemeat Christmas Cake

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • zest of an orange or lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mincemeat (I use all-fruit)
  • icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
Scrape into the pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until deep golden and springy to the touch. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter or spray a bundt pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and orange zest for a few minutes, until pale and light. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the mincemeat in two, stirring just until combined.

Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until deep golden and springy to the touch.

Turn the cake out of the pan onto a wire rack while it's still warm. If you like, dust the top with icing sugar or give it a quick brush of rum. Serves 16.

(Adapted from Feast, by Nigella Lawson)

Gingerbread Fruitcake

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup strong coffee (you can use orange or grape juice, or even milk, instead of coffee here)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb dried currants (about 3 cups)
  • 1 lb raisins (3 cups)
This holiday treat is half-gingerbread, half-fruitcake, and fully delicious. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Preheat the oven to 250°F (yes, this is right!)

In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar for a few minutes, until light. Beat in the eggs and then the molasses. It may look curdled — that's OK.

Put the raisins and currants into another bowl and shake a couple spoonfuls of the flour over them; toss to coat them well. In another bowl, stir together the remaining flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together the coffee and baking soda.

Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, then half the coffee, another third of the dry ingredients, the remaining coffee and the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just until smooth. Stir in the dried fruit mixture.

Divide the batter between two parchment-lined 9x5-inch loaf pans, smoothing the top.

Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in the middle of each cake comes out clean, two and a half to three hours. The cakes will sink slightly in the middle — that's OK.

Cool for about 10 minutes and then lift the cakes out of the pans to cool on wire racks. If you can, cool and wrap them well, and store at room temperature for a couple days before you slice them. Makes two fruitcakes.


With files from Julie Van Rosendaal and the Calgary Eyeopener

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