Elizabeth Baird : Forget all those nasty, slanderous jokes about fruitcake. I suspect those who utter them have never tasted a good fruitcake.

For their conversion, I offer a chock-full-of- goodness fruitcake, slightly adapted from Rose's dark rum nut fruitcake, in her Christmas Cookbook published in 1979.

This is the cake that I doubled and baked, at the request of the father of the bride and groom, for each of the Murray children's weddings.

It's handy that the batter fits into a standard 13 -× 9-inch (3.5 L) metal cake pan because I like to cut this cake crosswise into 6 rectangular logs-perfect gifts for friends who hanker after a real home-baked taste of Christmas but don't bake.

Store the wrapped logs in the refrigerator at-the-ready to slice and enjoy, a few fruity nuggets at a time, with a sherry, a good cup of tea or an espresso, or Mulled Cider (page 328) or wine.

Makes 6 fruitcake logs, about 2 1/2 lb (1.35 kg) total.

Fruit and nuts

  • 3 cups (750 mL) chopped mixed candied peel
  • 3 cups (750 mL) seeded Lexia or muscat raisins
  • 2 cups (500 mL) currants, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) halved candied cherries
  • 1 cup (250 mL) slivered blanched almonds
  • 1 cup (250 mL) pecan halves, chopped
  • 1 cup (250 mL) dark rum
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour


  • 1 cup (250 mL) butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 mL) packed brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) each baking powder and cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt, cloves and nutmeg


  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) dark rum (approx)

Fruit and nuts

  • Measure the peel, raisins, currants, cherries, almonds and pecans into a large bowl. Drizzle the rum over the fruit and nuts; toss. Cover and macerate (soak) at least 1 day or up to 3 days, stirring the mixture a few times a day, as time allows. Drain, reserving any liquid.


  • Line 13-× 9-inch (3.5 L) metal cake pan with 2 layers of parchment paper; set aside. Arrange 2 racks in the oven, one in the centre of the oven for the cake and the other in the bottom position. Place a large wide pan on the bottom rack; pour in hot water to come halfway up the sides. In a very large bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter until light coloured. Beat in the brown sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, cloves and nutmeg. Stir a third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, then the reserved soaking liquid, then the remaining dry ingredients in 2 additions to make a smooth batter.
  • Sprinkle the soaked fruit mixture with the 1/4 cup (60 mL) flour; toss well. Scrape the batter over the fruit mixture and stir to distribute the batter evenly (although not generously) over the fruit mixture. Scoop into the prepared cake pan, pressing the fruit mixture firmly into the pan. Smooth the top.
  • Bake in the centre of a 300°F (150°C) oven until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 11/2 hours. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack. Remove the cake from the pan; peel off the parchment paper.


  • Place the cake on a rimmed baking sheet lined generously with plastic wrap. Cut a double thickness of cheesecloth big enough to enclose the cake. Wrap the cake with the cheesecloth and brush on enough rum to soak the cheesecloth. Wrap the cake in the plastic wrap and place in an airtight container. Store for at least 2 weeks, brushing the cheesecloth every few days with rum if time and budget allow, or until the cake is mellow and moist. The cake will keep for up to 1 year if refrigerated and doesn't need more than an occasional redrenching with rum (unless, of course, the cook needs to sample the cake to assess how well it's mellowing).
  • After the cake has aged, remove the plastic wrap and the cheesecloth. Cut the cake crosswise into 6 rectangular logs. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.


  • To serve, you can brush the top of the cake with liquid honey or corn syrup and cover the cakes with thinly rolled out marzipan or almond paste. On the other hand, you may enjoy the cake as is, letting the fruit and rum star in the pleasure.