A Cake for Christmas

Christmas cake ingedientsThis is a moist rich fruit cake. The soaking of the fruit is optional, but desirable, and you can replace the brandy with whisky or rum or cold tea. I usually use Earl Grey tea with a generous 3 tablespoons of brandy.
The fruit mix can also be varied according to taste. This year I happened to find a jar of prunes soaked in brandy lurking at the back of the cupboard, so these were added, along with the soaking liquid as part of the fruit mix. A rather indulgent addition – but then a Christmas cake is all about indulgence. I also add plenty of spice – again the choice of spice and amount is a matter of taste. Most recipes recommend 1½ teaspoons for this size of cake, I just prefer a little more.


  • 250g butter
  • 125g light muscovado sugar
  • 125g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1000g dried fruit – prunes, candid peel, sour cherries, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, apricots, figs (the large fruit cut into pieces)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 65g ground almonds
  • 100g almonds or hazelnuts ( chopped, but not too small)
  • brandy
  • zest and juice of an orange
  • zest of a lemon
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 250g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon mixed cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg


  1. Soak the dried fruit in a mix of cold tea and brandy ( you will need about 350-450ml in total). Cover and leave for 24 hours. If it looks to dry after a few hours add a little more. The amount of liquid needed depends on the fruit you use.
  2. Line a  deep 20cm cake tin, with removable base, with a double layer of baking parchment (greaseproof paper). Ensure the paper is about 5cm above the top of the tin
  3. Set the oven to 160°C (non-fan).
  4. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  5. Add the eggs one at a time (don’t worry if it curdles)
  6. Add the almonds, nuts, citrus zest and juice, fruit mix and 3 tablespoons of brandy. The fruit should have absorbed the soaking liquid, if not drain first and retain the liquid. You may need it if the resulting cake mix is a little dry or you can substitute it for the brandy.
  7. Mix the flour and baking powder and fold into the cake mix.
  8. Place in tin, smooth top and put in the oven.
  9. Bake for 1 hour than reduce the oven temperature to 150°C and bake for another 1½ hours.
  10. If it starts to look too brown on the top, cover with a sheet of foil or paper
  11. The cake is done when an inserted skewer comes out clean
  12. Leave to cool in the tin.
  13. When cold, wrap in plenty of foil and place in a tin and keep in a cool place.
  14. Feed every week by spiking the cake with a fine skewer and drizzling with brandy.