Luxury Christmas Cake

This entry is filed under Christmas Recipes.

Rich fruity and deliciously moreish

Rich fruity and deliciously moreish

I’ve tried out different recipes over the years, including Delia, Michael Smith, The Cookery Year, Good Housekeeping and more recently Nigel Slater. However, I think this version is best of all.

It may take slightly longer to prepare than a boiled fruit cake, (now back in fashion thanks to Nigella). But frankly, when it comes to taste and texture there’s no comparison.

Follow these simple instructions and you can’t fail to produce a beautifully rich, moist and very moreish cake, and one you return to again and again.

Makes: 12 servings
Preparation Time: 30 minutes + overnight soaking + 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 3-3½ hours
Effort Level: Easy

100g each of: no-soak dried apricots, dried cranberries, figs, prunes, dark glace cherries, currants, sultanas and raisins
1 small lemon
1 large orange
100g ground almonds
100g blanched almonds or pecans
250g butter – room temperature
250g muscavado sugar
200g plain flour + ½ tsp baking powder
4 medium eggs
4 tbsp brandy
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
4 cloves crushed

Food processor or coffee grinder (optional)
20cm wide loose bottom cake tin
Chopping board and sharp knife
Electric mixer
2 mixing bowls
Pastry brush
An old newspaper and string
Greaseproof paper
Pen and scissors

N.B: For a darker cake, add a few drops of Crosse & Blackwell’s Browning. Please go the extra mile and wrap the tin’s exterior with newspaper, in return you’ll be rewarded with a cake that’s neither burnt or dry. Check the cake at 3 hours into baking – All ovens vary, so it may be cooked!

Step One: Soak The Fruit Overnight
Finely chop the cherries, apricots, prunes, and figs (removing their stalks) and tip into a large mixing bowl. Next, add the finely grated orange and lemon zest, plus their juice and the brandy. Mix well.
Cover with cling film and leave in a cool place overnight.

Step Two: Prepare The Cake Tin
The following day smear the cake tin with a little sunflower oil.
Lay a large, double sheet of greaseproof paper on a flat surface.
Place the cake tin in the centre and trace around its base.
Cut around the outline and lay this circle in the cake tin.
Trim the leftover paper making a collar to fit inside the tin but 5cm taller.
Fit inside the cake tin and brush liberally with sunflower oil.

Step Three: Mix The Cake
Preheat the oven 300F/150C/Gas 2
Tip the butter and sugar into the mixer and cream together well.
Chop the nuts into small pieces and tip into a second bowl.
Add the ground almonds, sifted plain flour, baking powder and the spices.
Add the eggs one at a time once the butter and sugar are light and fluffy.
Beat well in between each addition, the mixture will curdle – don’t worry!
Fold in the dried fruits with the spatula
Next fold in the dry ingredients.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
It should have a soft dropping consistency, spread it in the tin evenly
Smooth the surface until it’s level and cover with greaseproof paper.

Step Four – Protecting The Cake From Burning During Baking
Tie 4 sheets of newspaper around the cake tin, 5cm higher than the rim.
Lie 12 sheets of newspaper in the roasting tin and sit the cake on top.
Bake on the shelf just below the middle for 3 – 3½ hours.
Insert a skewer into the middle of the cake to see if it’s done.
If it comes out clean take  out the oven and leave to cool.
Remove the tin and wrap well in tin foil. Store in an airtight tin.

Step Five: – Feeding The Cake Brandy
Skewer the cake’s surface weekly and drip feed with brandy.
Re-wrap in tin foil and return to the tin.

Step Six: – Marzipan, Icing & Decorating The Cake
You can buy ready made marzipan and royal icing. Dr Oetker  is a reputable brand, available from all major supermarkets. Just roll it out and lay over the cake.


weighing the fruit


It’s all in the mix!

prepped & ready for the oven

The end result


11 Responses to “Luxury Christmas Cake”

  1. Uma says:

    Brilliant Debbie! let me know how you get on.

  2. Uma says:

    Sorry for late reply, but I’ve been away and only just back. I’m honoured you’re going to try it Rosemary. It’s had rave reviews and I love making it. I always use my conventional oven for baking, prefer it as the heat is more gentle and my fan oven doesn’t cook evenly anyway! Do let me know how you get on.

  3. Rosemary O'Sullivan says:

    I have never ever made a christmas cake other than the Condon Blue wedding cake, probably 1975ish. It is bliss everytime. I am now going to try this cake, can you please tell me whether the recommended baking time is conventional or fan???

    Look forward to clearing this up.

  4. Debbie says:

    Hi Uma, I have been baking my own Christmas cakes for years, generally at the end of September. iThis year things haven’t gone to plan and I have only just got round to doing it. The dried fruit has been sitting in Port, yes this year I have decided to use port instead of Rum, since yesterday evening, tomorrow I will begin the mixing. I have always cooked the cake at 160 degrees for around 4.5 hours, places a sheet of aluminium over it. Marzipan is rigorously homemade, you just can’t beat it.

    I have just come across your recipe and being curious, am giving it a go 😉

    Cheers for the recipe!


  5. Elsie says:

    Please help i would like to bake your xmas cake but can it be baked in a flavour wave oven desperate and how long would it take
    thank you
    Elsie lomard

  6. Uma says:

    Hello Janet in Australia!
    Thanks for having a go at my Christmas cake recipe. I’m flattered you liked it best. Its definitely the nicest one I’ve made nad I’ve done a ton of them over the years. 150 is the right temp, but your’re right fan assisted run hotter, also it might be your oven is running slightly higher, than normal its always a good idea to stick an oven thermometre in with the cake as each oven is different. Glad you caught it in time! What a relief as they’re not cheap and they are time consuming to make! If in doubt, always add plenty of brandy that way it won’t dry out! I hope you enjoy eating it as much as we do. Well done for being so organised, I haven’t even begun to think about making mine yet! Best wishes Uma

  7. Janet Ridley says:

    Hi Uma
    I’ve just realised I read the recipe wrong and should have covered the cake with greaseproof paper from the start! Never mind… I think I caught it in time. Thanks again.

  8. Janet Ridley says:

    I’ve just found your website in my search for a really good Christmas cake recipe. I’ve never made one before so it will be interesting. Yours certainly sounds the best!
    The mixing all went according to plan. It looks right so far…I made a wish too like I used to when my mum made one… Ahhh!
    Continuing on… It’s in the oven. Smells gorgeous. I had to cover it with greaseproof paper half way through to prevent burning but I think I may have had the oven on too hot. I have an electric fan oven and maybe they need to be set slightly lower than 150 degrees?
    Just taken it out and it’s cooked after 2 hours at 150 and another 2 hours at 130 degrees.
    Looks fantastic. Thanks for the recipe.

  9. Jennie says:

    I really am going to make one this year – I got as far as buying ingredients and pouring wine last year. Will also do the mincemeat this weekend….

  10. It is very traditional looking and very refined. I love the sugar icing leaves and berries you hand made yourself!

  11. Janine Scott says:

    Okay! you have won me over, thought it was too late to make the damn thing and as my usual supplier (my mother) has had her shoulder operated on this year, there really is no excuse!!
    Will let you know how it goes……can you come and ice it for me??????

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