Christmas Bake-Off: Second-place winner Latoya Newell-Irving
The Jamaica Observer Christmas Bake-Off Challenge 2022 second-place winner Latoya Newell-Irving presents her Jamaican fruitcake. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

Christmas is no doubt my favourite time of the year. It's the joy, the smells and overall spirit felt in the air. As a true Jamaican, fruitcake, sorrel and ham are non-negotiable items of the season.

I grew up with the aroma of fruitcake filling the house on Christmas Eve. Just the smell of it brings back so many memories!

I started baking with my mom at the age of 14. I always loved being around the kitchen watching both my mom and my aunt Bev work their magic. It was in this kitchen that I learned just how to choose the right mix of butter and how to cream the batter just right. I can remember them tasting and adjusting as they went along. "Do not add too much browning, Latoya," they would say, "it makes the batter bitter."

Baking is as much a science as it is a feeling. Using the recipe and measuring your ingredients properly but also trusting your gut in tweaking just a bit to make it just yours.

The foundation of my Jamaican fruitcake journey started in that kitchen with those two wonderful ladies in my life. I built on that as I grew older and added a little bit of my touch to make the recipe mine.

I hope this Christmas you, too, will take some tradition and add a little spice of you.

Newell-Irving's Jamaican Fruitcake (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
Supreme Ventures Gaming Limited CEO Xesus Johnston presents second-place winner Latoya Newell-Irving with a symbolic $100,000-cheque. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
...and a gift basket. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
Massy Gas Products Key Account Manager Kevaun Tyrell presents Latoya Newell-Irving with a gift basket courtesy of Gas Pro Jamaica. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
Black Ink Marketing & Event Solutions CEO Maxine Miller (right) presents Latoya Newell-Irving with a gift bag courtesy of Frigidaire.Garfield Robinson

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