Lunenburg Fruit Cake

This recipe is featured in Nova Scotia Cookery, Then & Now – a cookbook  showcasing modern interpretations of heritage Nova Scotia recipes.

“Its says to flavour it. What says fruitcake? Warm spices, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, traditional Christmas flavours. I love cranberries and Terra Beata is in Lunenburg County. Still, at the end of the day, you need the raisins; they provide absorption, especially soaked in rum. I was a bit shocked there was no rum in the original. It produces a large amount of fruitcake. They actually state for the egg to be separated; someone was keeping in mind to alleviate the denseness of the fruitcake and provide a light and airier batter. It had more rise on it than some.”

T.J. Pittman


1 lb (459 g) dried Terra Beata cranberries
1/2 lb (225 g) raisins
4 oz (113 g) dried blueberries
3/4 cup (175 ml) Ironworks Distillery black rum
1 lemon, zested and juiced
9 eggs, separated
1 cup (250 ml) unsalted butter
2 cups (500 ml) brown sugar
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour
2 cups (500 ml) dark rye flour
2 tsp (10 ml)
baking powder
1 tsp (5 ml) sea salt
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 ml) Ironworks Distillery cranberry liqueur

For Cranberry Liqueur Glaze

1 cup (250 ml) castor sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
1/3 cup (75 ml) cranberry liqueur
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla bean paste


  1. Soak cranberries, raisins, and blueberries with rum, lemon juice, and zest overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks, place in refrigerator until needed.
  3. Using electric stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on speed 4. Once incorporated, add egg yolks gradually. Turn to speed 1 and add milk. The mixture will look separated.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
  5. Add soaked fruit to butter-sugar mixture. Then, alternating between dry ingredients and egg whites, fold in thirds into batter and fruit base. Mix until thick.
  6. Dived batter equally between 2 greased 9-inch (23 cm) cast-iron pans, place in oven on middle rack. Bake at least 1 hour and 45 minutes. Cake is done when skewer place in cake comes out clean.
  7. Meanwhile, place all ingredients for glaze in pot and bring to simmer over medium heat. Let cool. Remove cakes from oven, immediately brush with cranberry liqueur. Remove from pans, place on cooling rack.
  8. Once completely cooled, brush with glaze and serve.

Local Source Guide

Local Rum: Ironworks Distillery, Barrelling Tide Distillery, Coldstream Clear Distillery,or Halifax Distilling Co.

Local Cranberries: Terra Beata Cranberry Farm.

Recipe provided by: T.J Pittman, Old Fish Factory Restaurant 

For more heritage recipes: Nova Scotia Public Archives Recipe Collection
Nova Scotia Cookery, Then & Now is  presented by: Select Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Public Archives

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