Eat & Drink Recipes

Classic Dark Fruit Cake

Classic Christmas Recipe Dark Fruit Cake

In the decade’s worth of yummy recipes from all those wonderful East Coast kitchens that we shared on throughout the years – there was one very special creation that prevailed as our top searched recipe in ALL 10 of those years. One that remains a Christmas tradition in our family to this day – Classic Dark Fruit Cake. This is that recipe.

As Originally Posted December 20, 2010

This is it! The recipe for the Christmas cake my Mom has been making every Christmas for as long as I can remember.  Now I realize there’s a lot of Christmas cake jokes out there…we’ve all heard that classic ‘there’s really only one fruit cake and it just keeps getting re-gifted every year’ and truthfully I’m not a fan of fruit cake – UNLESS it’s this one!!!

Now you should know – my Mom has always been hesitant to bake this cake too early. On more than one occasion it was baked and completely consumed before company ever arrived to enjoy it.  Case in point, my late Uncle Jerry Puddester used to ask for one each year and he’d begin eating it as soon as it arrived and continue nibbling until it was gone!  I got mine this year in October – needless to say it didn’t last to November – so I was forced to make my first Dark Fruit Cake for the Breakfast Television segment (watch here)… after buying The Treasury of Newfoundland Dishes.  A capital investment if ever there was one.  While nothing ever tastes as good as when your Mom makes it – it’s pretty darn tasty!  Enjoy!!! sb


1 cup molasses

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon allspice

1 tablespoon cloves

The Treasure of Newfoundland Dishes

1 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

5 eggs, well beaten

3 1/2 cups sifted flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups currants

3 cups raisins

2 cups citron peel

2 cups lemon peel

1 ¼ cups dates (if desired)

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons hot water

A wine glass of whiskey or rum (if desired).  Our contributor reports that, to add flavour, he brushes the top of the cake with rum before icing. Spirits tend to evaporate in the oven heat.


  • Steep spices in molasses over a low heat. (Do not let boil, but the longer it is allowed to steep, the darker your cake will be)
  • Cream butter and sugar, then add the well beaten eggs and cooled molasses mixture.
  • Dust fruit with ¼ cup of the flour.
  • Add remaining flour and the salt to the butter mixture and. blend well.
  • Stir in floured fruit.
  • Last of all, mix in soda dissolved in hot water.

Use a large baking pan lined with three layers of brown paper. (An iron bake pot is best and it should be at least 10 inches wide and 3 inches deep)  Bake at 275  F. for 3. to 3 ½  hours.

Of course in the old days they cut their own fruit, but now you can use mixed cut peel instead of the lemon and citron if desired.


“Our contributor says: ‘My friends have urged me to send you an old family recipe for a really dark fruit cake – which makes a beautiful cutting cake for Christmas or other occasions and will for years (if you can save it that long). It has been handed down for generations and originally came with my ancestors from England in the 1700·s. ‘They settled in Calvert (then Caplin Bay) on the Southern Shore. My mother remembers her grandmother making it and she got the recipe from her mother.  Mother is now 76 and her grandmother is dead over 53 years, and she was 98 when she died.” SALLY WEST

Note of Courtesy & Christmas Thanks:

The Treasury of Newfoundland Dishes – by Jill Whitaker (2008) Boulder Publications

This cookbook has been a family favourite since it was first published in 1958. Sally West, a spokesperson for Cream of the West flour, helped create this cookbook together with the Newfoundland Home Economics Association.  The Treasury includes hundreds of nutritious and delicious recipes, all of which were tested and approved by professional home economists. You can get a copy for yourself here.

About the author

Stephanie Beaumont

Storyteller/Creative Director/Producer/Host/Writer/Marketer/Designer/Dreamer/Coffee Lover/Movie Maniac/Red Sox Fan

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  • I have been hoping to find an authentic Down Home Dark Fruitcake Recipe and I will try this one it sounds like a full flavoured cake rather than the sweet flavourless Ones here in Ontario, thanks for posting.


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