Baker on a mission to make fruitcake fashionable again
CTVNews,ca Staff, with a report from CTV Montreal's Angela MacKenzie
Published Sunday, December 16, 2018 5:42PM EST
A Canadian baker is on a one-man mission to make fruitcake fashionable again.
The much-maligned Christmas cake has fallen out of favour with younger foodies, but a bed and breakfast owner in Montreal is determined to bring the classic dessert to a wider audience.
Ken Ilasz has spent the last few months baking up a storm in his kitchen, packaging thousands of fruitcakes for customers.
“When young people speak about fruitcake their first reaction is ‘oh no, that's so terrible,’” Ilasz told CTV Montreal.
“I have a base mix, apricots and figs, Thompson raisins, black currents, cranberries and walnuts.”
But he also gets creative, adding some unexpected exotic ingredients like Saskatoon berries, mango, chocolate and tonka beans to his six varieties of cake.
Ilasz started his fruitcake business nine years ago, hoping to make a cake with maple syrup to take to friends in Japan.
“My mother was a homemaker and baked cake from recipes handed down from her mother and her great grandmother, I kind of modified the recipe,” he said.
Ilasz now makes 2,000 cakes a year and the secret is in the aging process, he says, with cakes maturing anywhere from a few months to four years.
The fancy fruitcakes, which Ilasz said have a loyal following, come with a price tag of $20 to $80.
Last year, a professor at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, wrote a defense of the infamous dessert.
Sean Coary, Ph.D., assistant professor of food marketing at Saint Joseph’s, said the cake has earned a bad reputation largely “for no good reason.”
Coary said fruitcake is an especially authentic Christmas food, first made in ancient Rome.
“We think it’s from an older generation, something our grandparents would like,” Coary said.
“Millennials don’t try fruitcake, or if they do, they think they’re supposed to hate it.”
Coary suggests that it is mostly older Americans who continue to buy fruitcake and that millennials give the cake to friends and family as an ironic gesture.
“Here is a dessert with a number of interesting ingredients and a history of nostalgia and tradition,” he said.
“Why don’t foodies rally around fruitcake?”
According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, Canadians spent more than $460 million on candy, confectionary and snack foods at large retailers in December 2016, the month with the highest sales.
A whopping 5.7 million litres of whipping cream and 5.2 million litres of eggnog were sold in Canada the same month.