For Baird, nostalgia plays a big role in her love of fruitcake.
“My mother loved baking and every Christmas she would make a light, medium and dark Christmas cake.”
There were special trips to get the candied fruit — lemons and oranges — in whole pieces if possible, to the liquor store and to look for flat, seeded Muscat raisins. They are hard to find now, but Lexia raisins also come from Muscatel grapes.
“They have the lovely winey flavour that really gives great depth to something like a Christmas cake,” Baird says.
The cakes were made several weeks in advance of the holidays, wrapped in liquor-soaked cheesecloth and stored in tins in a cool place to allow them to mature and absorb the liquor. On holiday occasions, slices of the cakes would be arranged on a platter with a variety of Christmas cookies.
“I was always impressed with the pride with which these things were offered,” Baird says.