Ottawa·Recipe

Make your own holiday fruitcake

Two fruitcake makers share their thoughts on what makes the holiday dessert so great.

If you're a fruitcake hater you likely just haven't tried the right one

This week's recipe is a seven-day fruitcake from the judge on CBC's Great Canadian Baking Show. It's fairly easy and might just win over the critics at your holiday party. (CBC)

Fruitcake. It's possible you love it. It's more likely you hate it.

If you've never had homemade or chef-made variety, that might be the reason you never took to the seasonal, rum-soaked dessert.

On All In A Day this week, two fruitcake makers — one pro, one not — encouraged haters to give the much-maligned cake a second chance.

Ottawa pastry chef Adam Ceniako's version is heavy on fruit and marzipan, with only a hint of cake. Caroline Abela's creation, meanwhile, is based on her grandmother's Irish interpretation — making it dark, rich and a little boozy.

Both were keeping their recipes secret: one for trade reasons, the other for family reasons.

So, here's a fantastic home version from pastry chef Kyla Kennaley. This time-tested recipe from the judge on CBC's Great Canadian Baking Show is fairly easy and might win over the critics at your holiday party.

Caroline Abela and Adam Cenaiko praise their fruit cake recipes on All In A Day. (Alan Neal/CBC)

Seven-day fruit cake 

Ingredients:

For the fruit:

  • 2 cups each dried apricots, cranberries, cherries, pineapple, golden and dark raisins, or other dried chopped fruit to equal 12 cups

  • ½ cup candied orange peel, chopped

  • ½ cup candied ginger, chopped

  • 1 cup dried figs, chopped

  • 600 ml dark liqueur (rum, brandy, port, sherry, or Cointreau)

  • 150 mL water

  • 2 tsp. bitters

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg

  • ½ tsp. ground cloves

  •  ½ tsp. allspice 

  • ½ tsp. salt

For the cake:

  • 2 cups softened butter

  • 3 cups brown sugar

  • 8 large eggs

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tbsp. baking powder

  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

  1. Five days before making the cake, combine all the fruit ingredients in a large pot.

  2. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.

  3. Cover with plastic and let sit for five days, stirring once a day.

  4. To make the cake, combine the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

  5. Add eggs slowly until well combined.

  6. Stir in flour and baking powder.

  7. Fold in the fruit and its marinating liquid, as well as the vanilla, with a wooden spoon.

  8. Spoon the cake dough into lined loaf pans and give the dough a nice level surface.

  9. Cover with parchment paper and bake at 275 F for two to three hours, depending on the size of the pans. To test if it's done, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake; it should come out clean, and the cake will feel moist to the touch.

  10. Cool on racks and wrap with foil. Leave for two days before cutting and serving. Yields eight small loaf pans.

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