As with most things in life ‘practice makes perfect’ - and this is most certainly true with baking.

The first time I made it - I used too big a dish so it was too thin, & ended up crispy - be warned this cake hardly rises!  Also it really needs a very low cook & wrapping the whole thing in paper really does help to stop the edges burning - honest. Paper? Yes normal brown parcel paper is used to wrap round the edge of the tin and over the top of the cake to stop the edges getting too hot and over cooked; or newspaper does the job just as well. (see pic below)

In summary:

A christmas cake is basically a sponge cake with added fruit & nuts - so I have divided the recipe into these 2 parts - because you can make the fruit bit the night before & let the alcohol soak into the fruit.

This recipe makes a fruit cake that is very rich in fruit compared to the ‘sponge’, basically it's 3/5s fruit and 2/5s sponge.  Quite a few other recipes I’ve looked at use much less fruit to sponge ratio, making a different type of cake.


Large tin - shape is a personal choice, but I love rectangle ones so more space for decorations. A roasting tin or dish is good, make sure it is nice and deep.   Line it with grease proof paper - easiest is to line the bottom and grease the sides with butter. The size I use is: 23cm x 28cm x 5cm.

Big Mixing bowl - to combine the 2 sets of ingredients at the end in.

Brown parcel paper & pins - or newspaper.

Cooking time - long & low is the cardinal rule. For this size cake 4 to 5 hours  at only 110c or gas mark 1. This can vary on oven type and dish used - the cake is done when the top of the cake is firm to touch, but still gives a little, or when a skewer comes out clean.


PART 1 - the fruit bit - this can be done the night before you bake it.

 In the large bowl mix together the following:

12 oz (340 g) currants

12 oz (340 g) sultanas

6 oz (170 g) raisins

6 oz (170 g) glace cherries

4 oz (110 g) candied peel

  or similar total weight (40 oz) of these fruit sold as a combined lot, but half the fun is mixing all these together, especially if making with children.

4 oz (110 g) chopped almonds (not too small - some come already chopped but are more suited for use in a 'stuffing')

2 oz (55 g) crystallised  ginger, cut in to small pieces about 1cm.

Or you can add your own combination of fruit & nuts - apricots, dates, walnuts etc

150ml brandy or rum

1 tsp Mixed Spice  (this is not Allspice)

1 1/2 Tablespns Treacle (Black) (a tin of this can be used year after year - never seems to go off!)

 ALL the above can now be left to absorb the alcohol  - over night if you like.


fruit ingreds here is the 'fruit & nut ' mix - note nuts not too 'chopped' these are more 'sliced' ones


 treacle here's adding the treacle, then mix it all together with the alchol, and leave to soak in.


 PART 2: - the cake bit

9 oz (255g) Butter

9 oz (255g) Brown Sugar (not demarara)

6 eggs - just mixed in not whipped

12 oz (340g) Plain flour

1 teaspn Baking powder

1 pinch of salt


Mix all the above together - this can be done in a mixer.

Then tip this into the large bowl full of your fruit mix and fold  in well.

 mixing stirring in well

christmas cake    Once well mixed spoon out into your lined dish - filling all the corners well. 

Now to stop the cake burning at the edges -  wrap the tin and cake in paper and fasten together with pins, or just crunched over - the top must be covered, but NOT touching the cake.

christmas caked wrapped


And cook slowly - long & low. 4 hours on 110.


After its cooked, leave it 10 minutes to cool in its tin, then tip out onto a rack to air.

christmas cake cooked All cooked - as you can see it does not rise much!

If you don’t want to ice it now wrap it in tinfoil or leave in an airtight tin till you are ready.



Spread the top with apricot jam (this avoids crumbs in the marzipan & icing) though it is optional if your marzipan is very thick.

Cover with a layer of golden marzipan - I like this to be quite thick.

Icing  - you can cheat and use a pack of icing to roll out, or the following:

Half Royal Icing sugar and half ordinary icing sugar mixed with a little warm water to get a firm consistency then spread on with a warm palette knife.

Or make ROYAL ICING - which is just 2 egg whites & 500grams normal icing sugar - beat well.

In my opinion butter icing does not go with fruit cake - ever!


Fruit cake can keep for years in a tin - We ate our wedding cake’s top layer 6 years later when at last we got round to christening our daughter. We just put on new icing.

If you’ve not got a tin large enough for your cake, just wrap it in tin foil, till you’ve eaten enough of it so it can fit in your tin!