King’s Family Fruit Cake

King’s Family Fruit Cake

Origin: Woodside National Historic Site
Region: Ontario
Period: 19th century
Course: Desserts and Baked Goods

Even if you don't normally like fruitcake, we encourage you to try this one!

Photo of William Lyon Mackenzie King walking in woods William Lyon Mackenzie King walking in woods
© Library and Archives Canada

This recipe has a strong link to Woodside National Historic Site as it is among the recipes written out and saved by the King family. In the 1890s, fruit cake was not just for Christmas, but served often at tea-time or as dessert. In 1948, during his tenure as prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King was sent a wonderful fruit cake as an Easter gift, which he described in his diary as “...a huge two-story fruitcake, beautifully iced with decorations, birds, flowers, etc.” King was delighted to serve this cake to his guests.

Even people who despise traditional fruit cake have been known to enjoy this fruit cake from the King archives, and several Parks Canada staff make this at home for their families. It is delicious, and best enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea.

King’s Family Fruit Cake


  • 1 cup | 250 ml butter
  • 1½ cups | 375 ml granulated white sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • ½ cup | 125 ml of white wine
  • ½ lb | 125 ml of citron peel
  • ½ lb | 125 ml of chopped almonds
  • ½ cup | 125 ml of unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 3 cups | 750 ml sifted all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp | 15 ml baking powder


  • Grease two loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Cream the butter and sugar together. Add wine to the mixture. In a separate bowl sift flour and baking powder together. Add citron, almonds and coconut to flour and stir. Gradually add flour mixture to the other bowl. In a separate bowl beat egg whites until stiff. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the rest of the ingredients. Pour mixture into loaf pans and smooth top. Bake for approximately 1 hour.
  • Citron peel can be difficult to find. This is the slightly greenish peel often available in November and December. Try a bulk food store at other times. Avoid dried out sugary peel. Peel that is very “syrupy” should be rinsed. Other peel could be used but the result is not the same.


Recipe tested by Chef Sean Edwards, Algonquin College of Hospitality and Tourism

This recipe is from the King family.