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Eric Akis: 'Tis the season for fruitcake

Get in the holiday spirit with this Christmas treat loaded with glacé fruit and almonds.
This golden fruitcake is rich with several types of fruit and slivered almonds. ERIC AKIS

A reader, Carol, asked if I had a recipe for light fruitcake. I told her I would offer one in my column before Christmas and I’m doing that today.

The “light” in light fruitcake is most often not a reference to it being a low-calorie creation. It’s a reference to it being “light” in colour when compared to dark fruitcake. In other words, it still has generous amounts of such things as dried fruit, glace cherries and nuts, but off the ingredient list are deeply hued items that would darken the cake, such as molasses.

When reviewing recipes for light fruitcake, many, including mine, have a pound-cake-like batter. It has butter and eggs and yields a cake golden in colour, why light fruitcake is also sometimes called golden fruitcake, as my recipe is.

My recipe yields two not overly tall cakes (loaves) loaded with fruit and almonds. They are dense, divine and get even better if allowed to age a day or two to allow the flavours of fruit and other ingredients to meld.

The recipe requires two 8.5-by-4.5-inch loaf pans. If don’t have ones that size, you’ll find them for sale at stores selling kitchenware.

Golden Fruitcake with Almonds

In this recipe, a generous amount of prepared fruit and almonds is mixed into a buttery batter, yielding rich, dense, divine cakes to slice and serve during the holidays.

Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus aging time see method)

Cooking time: 60 to 65 minutes

Makes: two cakes

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 cups slivered almonds, toasted (about 200 grams; see Note 1)

3/4 cup glace mix (see Note 2)

1/3 cup red glace cherries, halved

1/3 cup green glace cherries, halved

1/2 cup golden or sultana raisins

1/3 cup dried wild blueberries or currants (see Note 3)

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 tsp finely grated orange zest

• vegetable oil spray and parchment paper

1 cup soft butter

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

3 Tbsp orange juice

1/2 tsp almond extract

3 large eggs

2 Tbsp orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec, or to taste (optional)

Place flour, baking powder, ginger and nutmeg in a bowl and whisk to combine. In a second bowl, add the almonds, glace mix, cherries, raisins, blueberries (or currants) and orange zest. Sprinkle in 2 Tbsp of the flour mixture and toss to combine

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease two, 8.5 x 4.5-inch non-stick loaf pans with vegetable oil spray. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.

Place butter, sugar, orange juice and almond extract in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat three to five minutes, until lightened and well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Add flour mixture and beat well to combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat a few seconds more. Add the almond/fruit mixture and beat until everything is evenly combined (the batter will be very thick).

Divided the batter between the two loaf pans, spreading it out so it sits evenly in the pans. Bake cakes in middle oven 60 to 65 minutes, or until rich golden on top and the cakes spring back when gently touched in the very centre.

Set cakes on a baking rack and let them cool in their pans 30 minutes. Now remove cakes from their pans. Brush the top of each cake with 1 Tbsp of orange liqueur, if using, and then let cool to room temperature.

When cooled, individual wrap cakes in plastic wrap or foil and age them at room temperature one or two days to allow the flavours of the fruit and other ingredients to meld. The loaves are now ready to slice and enjoy, or to freeze, thaw and slice at another time.

Note 1: Slivered almonds are peeled almonds split in half and cut into strips (slivers). Don’t confuse them with thinner sliced almonds. To toast almonds, spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a 325 F oven 10 minutes. Swirl the almonds, and then bake three to five minutes more, or until lightly toasted. Cool almonds to room temperature, and they are ready to use.

Note 2: Glace mix is a mix of diced glace cherries, citrus peel and other candied fruit, such as pineapple or papaya, depending on the brand. It’s sold in tubs in the baking aisle of supermarkets. You also find it sold in bulk at some supermarkets and bulk food stores.

Note 3: The dried wild blueberries I used in the recipe were made by Quebec company, Patience Fruit & CO ( I bought them at Pepper’s Food Store ( If you can’t find them, replace with another type of dried blueberry or with currants.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.