Angela Nilsen's Christmas cake

Angela Nilsen's Christmas cake

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(22 ratings)

Prep: 45 mins - 50 mins Cook: 2 hrs - 2 hrs, 45 mins


Cuts into 16 slices
A long-life Christmas cake that's bursting with flavours of spices and vanilla

Nutrition and extra info

  • Can be frozen, but no need to

Nutrition: per slice

  • kcal427
  • fat22g
  • saturates8g
  • carbs53g
  • sugars17g
  • fibre2g
  • protein7g
  • salt0.42g
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  • 200g butter, softened to room temperature



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 200g dark muscovado sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 4 egg, beaten



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

  • 50g ground almond
  • 100ml sherry, sweet or dry, whatever you have in the cupboard
  • 85g candied peel, roughly chopped (we used Sundora)
  • 85g glacé cherry, roughly chopped
  • 250g raisin
  • 250g currant
  • 100g pack pecan nuts, broken into big pieces
    Pecan nuts



    Related to the walnut, pecans are native to America, and grow enclosed in a glossy, browny-red…

  • finely grated zest 1 lemon



    Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…

  • 1½ tsp mixed spice
  • 1½ tsp rosewater
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking powder
    Baking powder

    Baking powder

    bay-king pow-dah

    Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…


  1. Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Line the base and sides of a 20 cm round, 7.5 cm deep cake tin. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer for 1-2 mins until very creamy and pale in colour, scraping down the sides of the bowl half way through. Stir in a spoonful of the flour, then stir in the beaten egg and the rest of the flour alternately, a quarter at a time, beating well each time with a wooden spoon. Stir in the almonds.

  2. Mix in the sherry (the mix will look curdled), then add the peel, cherries, raisins, cherries, nuts, lemon zest, spice, rosewater and vanilla. Beat together to mix, then stir in the baking powder.

  3. Spoon mixture into the tin and smooth the top, making a slight dip in the centre. Bake for 30 mins, then lower temperature to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2 and bake a further 2-2¼ hrs, until a skewer insterted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin, then take out of the tin and peel off the lining paper. When completely cold, wrap well in cling film and foil to store until ready to decorate. The cake will keep for several months.

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Comments (50)

sarahzoehills's picture

Made this for two years, changed recipes and am firmly going back to this one this year. It's lovely.

golsen's picture

I never liked Christmas cake myself, but I promised to make one for my Danish father in-law who had never tried it. So Xmas 2012 was my first attempt ever at making a Christmas cake, using this recipe. I didn't have rosewater so I left it out, and like others, I used hazelnuts instead of pecans. I made the cake at the end of October and I fed it with just a tablespoon of sherry every 2 weeks from then.
I have to say my opinion of Christmas cakes has completely changed since trying this cake. It was the nicest cake I have tasted -ever. It was lovely and moist with a fantastic flavour - the spices were lovely. It wasn't too boozy either. My in-laws were equally impressed and I have received orders again this year! I will be sure to use this recipe again and this time I will make more than one! Thank you for this recipe. 5 stars from me!

scrappydoo's picture

Made this Christmas cake for the first time this year. I'm not a fan of the really dark, dense cakes and this one suited me much better. Moist, with enough fruit and a good hint of spice. I made it in two loaf tins as we only needed a small cake then gave the other one away as a present. Will make again.

karenbristow's picture

Made 2 of these this year for the first time. I am told they were delicious. (I don't like Christmas cake) Will keep the recipe for next year. Covered them with regal icing with xmas trees on top. I made these by stacking snowflakes of different sizes on top of each other that I'd cut out with just a shop bought cutter. It looked very impressive.

susiedawnjones's picture

Made this cake - my first ever Christmas cake and it was so delicious, moist and full of flavour that it got eaten by the family and now I'm making another! Fantastic, easy recipe!

sarahzoehills's picture

Made this last year and am currently making it this year. Hope it's as good as last time!

poochy1978's picture

Just made this cake and used cherry brandy soaked fruit and pure orange juice instead of rosewater... smells divine and looks amazing.. for a 1st attempt i'm very happy one down.. three to go

smitsu's picture

Reading all the comments and it sounds a wonderful cake. Would like to make it as 4 small cakes for pressies but not sure how long I should cook it for

smcilroy's picture

Made this last year for Christmas and everyone loved it even the kids and those that dont really like Christmas cake. I made mine with Grand Marnier instead of rum and missed out the rose water as I didnt have any, but it was still delicious. Hope it is just as delicious this year.

karenbristow's picture

With previous cakes I have put one tablespoon of alcohol every 2 weeks on the top. Make holes with a fork or cocktail stick first. This will be my first try at this recipe but all the reviews commend it so it should be good. Rosewater is available from Lakeland.

stefiavis's picture

How much alcohol are you supposed to 'feed' them with? I don't want to over power it or not do enough and it not be moist?

suenewby's picture

Tried this last year. It was the best Christmas cake I've tasted and moist too.

doosage's picture

I made 3 Christmas cakes in 2011. The first was this recipe exactly, the second I altered to suit family tastes (no nuts, used cognac, no rosewater, etc) and the third was a different recipe (Delia's classic). This one as written was the best Christmas cake I have ever tasted!!!

longsean's picture

Made this cake about three weeks before christmas, great recipe easy to follow only change i made i used whiskey instead of sherry, my first attempt at a christmas cake by the way, it looked geat and everyone loved the flavours but it was very dry and crumbley i didn`t feed it should i have done or what did i do wrong i would really love to make this cake again as it reminded me of the ones my mum used to make any suggestions would be great, thanks

Mrslou19's picture

Made 2 of these this year, have tried several recipes and loved this one! Added extra cherries, luxury fruit mix and more mixed nuts. Kept rest the same. It was delicious. A light full of spice cake. Made one square one and cut into 4 for pressies after marzipaning & royal icing. Would highly recommend.

kathryndonna's picture

I make a Christmas cake every year and have tried a number of different recipes, from this site and various books. Most of the time there is little noticeable difference in the variations but this one had just about everything right and gave what I would describe as the perfect cake. Definitley one for the favourites folder.

Caroline_R's picture

I made this cake about a month before Christmas Day. The only ingredient I didn't use was rosewater. The night before I made the cake I also soaked the currants and raisins in Brandy, I fed the cake once a week with the remaining brandy too. I'm a novice at baking and I have to say this recipe was very easy to follow and make.
Having just tried the cake for the first time, it's delicious, everyone commented it's way better than a shop bought one, next year I'm going to make two!

lwheatley's picture

Beautiful cake, but next time i will cook for maybe 5 to 10 mins less as was a bit crunchy on the outside. Great cake though

keithlamble's picture

first class


Questions (4)

Clare Funston's picture

I would like to do this recipe using a 6"round cake tin...can you help me with advice for scaling down recipe and cooking time please.

goodfoodteam's picture

Thanks for your request. Although we haven't baked this cake with these quantities, so cannot guarantee perfect results, this is how we would scale it down by a quarter in the Good Food Kitchen. Replace ingredients weighing 200g for 150g, 250g for 185g and 85g for 60g, use 3 eggs, 30g ground almonds,  75ml sherry and 75g pecans with the zest of I small lemon, 1 tsp each spice and rosewater, and keep the vanilla and baking powder just under 1/2 tsp. Bake for 25 mins then turn down the heat as the recipe suggests and bake for 1 hr 15 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. You will need to keep a close eye on the cake to check the progress as it cooks. If it starts to brown before it is fully cooked you can lightly cover the top of the tin with a sheet of foil. 

Clare Funston's picture

Hi there
I was hoping to make this cake as presents using a 6"round deep cake tin and wondered if you could advise me on the scaling down of the recipe ingredients and cooking time etc.
It would be great if I could get some advice.

stepmadlin's picture

I made this recipe last week and it was lovely but it was a bit crumbly although didn't taste dry. I soaked the fruit the night before in the alcohol, I used brandy, but didn't add any more to the mix. Is that where I went wrong?

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