Simmer-&-stir Christmas cake

Simmer-&-stir Christmas cake

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(156 ratings)

Prep: 1 hr - 1 hr, 15 mins Cook: 1 hr - 2 hrs, 30 mins (cooking time 2 hrs 30 if gas oven)

More effort

Makes a 20cm round cake
An easy-to-make alternative to traditional Christmas cakes which requires no beating

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable


  • kcal-
  • fat-
  • saturates-
  • carbs-
  • sugars-
  • fibre-
  • protein-
  • salt-
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  • 175g butter, chopped



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

  • 200g dark muscovado sugar
  • 750g luxury mixed dried fruit (one that includes mixed peel and glacé cherries)
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange



    One of the best-known citrus fruits, oranges aren't necessarily orange - some varieties are…

  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon



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

  • 100ml/3½ fl oz cherry brandy or brandy plus 4tbsp more



    Brandy is a distilled spirit made from virtually any fermented fruit or starchy vegetable.…

  • 85g macadamia nut
  • 3 large egg, lightly beaten



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

  • 85g ground almond


    arr-mund or al-mund

    Sweet almonds have a subtle fragrance that lends itself well to baking and also works well with…

  • 200g plain flour
  • 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 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon



    A fragrant spice which comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree. When dried, it curls into…

  • ¼ tsp ground allspice


  1. Put the butter, sugar, fruit, zests, juice and 100ml/3½fl oz brandy in a large pan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the butter has melted. Reduce the heat and bubble for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2/ fan 130C and line a 20cm round cake tin. Toast the nuts in a dry frying pan, tossing them until evenly browned, or in the oven for 8-10 minutes - keep an eye on them as they burn easily. When they are cool, chop roughly. Stir the eggs, nuts and ground almonds into the fruit mixture and mix well. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the pan. Stir in gently, until there are no traces of flour left.

  4. Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth it down evenly - you will find this is easiest with the back of a metal spoon which has been dipped into boiling water.

  5. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn down the heat to 140C/gas 1/ fan120C and cook for a further 1-1¼ hours (about a further 1¾ hours if you have a gas oven) until the cake is dark golden in appearance and firm to the touch. Cover the top of the cake with foil if it starts to darken too much. To check the cake is done, insert a fine skewer into the centre - if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

  6. Make holes all over the warm cake with a fine skewer and spoon the extra 4tbsp brandy over the holes until it has all soaked in. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. When it's cold, remove it from the tin, peel off the lining paper, then wrap first in baking parchment and then in foil. The cake will keep in a cupboard for up to three months or you can freeze it for six months.

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Comments (258)

ant62's picture

I made this cake for Christmas last year and as it was so good, I had to make it again this year. Unfortunately we are only just into November and it has already been eaten. Just about to make another. I hope it will last till Christmas this time. Beautiful cake and easy to make. Lovely without any additions, although I did add some walnuts but only because I like them.

carolannburton's picture

Made this toady and it was so easy. Can't wait to try it at Christmas.

lornadennis's picture

10 out of 10. This is the easiest and by far the best Christmas cake I have ever made. This will be my go to recipe for the future. I was worried the extra brandy poured over the cake at the end would be overpowering but it just made the cake moist right down to the last mouthful. My husband cut the first slice on Christmas eve and declared it was delicious. Some years the cake has hung around but this year it was eaten just after new year and there are only 2 of us! Will definitely use if I ever want to make a celebration cake.

allielovetocook's picture

Is a 5* recipe (but rating doesn't seem to work today) .. This is an update to my 25th November comment. It's now post-Christmas and I ended up making two of these cakes - one for us with Brandy and as-per the recipe, and another alcohol-free which was for my parents for which I used black tea with added golden syrup as the cooking liquid / feed (didn't add macadamias for this one but used extra fruit to the same quantity as the nuts). These were the first Christmas cakes I've ever made (and decorated .. very proud!) and I'll never use another recipe as they're that good. In fact, my father who is notoriously hard to please, has today told me that the cake I made my parents is the best cake he's ever tasted!! (I'm still basking in the glow of THAT compliment!) Thanks BBC Good Food - yet another superb recipe.

silvia115's picture

This fruit cake is delicious. I've been making boiled fruit cake for years. It was an old recipe and nice...I saw this one and wanted to change. It's moist and full of fruit and almost like a christmas pudding. It will be my favourite from now on. I make Christmas cakes as gifts for neighbours in place of a card. I collect large tuna tins during the year and wash them and put them away then at Christmas I make a fruit cake and divide it amongst 4 tins and bake them. I then wrap them in cellophane to give away. This year I used this recipe to do that. Hope everyone has a nice Christmas! Thanks for the lovely recipe :)

allielovetocook's picture

I made this today after simmering the fruit yesterday and leaving for 24 hours - to be honest, I would've been happy to get a spoon and dig in to the cooked fruit mixture as it cooled, it really did smell THAT good! .. like Christmas Pudding. Anyway, today I got the other ingredients together with the fruit and although it took 30 mins longer than stated (I prepared the tin old-style, ie with a brown paper surround on the outside of the tin and it must have insulated the cake against the long cooking time a little too well!) .. it looks absolutely perfect. I've fed it as advised and it's now cooled and wrapped. Might feed it again in a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed it tastes as good as it looks!

Bakerinoz's picture

This cake recipe is the reason why I am now the nominated Christmas cake baker in our family :/- if you don't want that responsibility then for heavens sake do not make this cake lol. It is very, very good and thankfully...super easy. I feed it a few tablespoons of brandy every two weeks whilst it is maturing (usually make it mid Nov). Best fruit cake recipe ever. Thank you for posting it.

KXB73's picture

I've been using this Christmas cake recipe for a number of years now and it is so easy to make and absolutely delicious. I've gone from making one just for myself to several for various family members :)

ljleat's picture

Have made this cake for Christmas for the last few years and scaled it down to make a smaller one last year. Although I don't eat fruit cake everyone tells me it's a good, moist cake. Now using the recipe to make a larger celebration cake for my parents 80th birthday. I always soak the fruit overnight in the brandy and make the next day and feed as often as I remember before icing. So easy to do. This is the site I have been using to re-scale the recipe and seems to work.'s picture

Simmer and stir xmas cake amazing gorgeous cake so easy to make all in one step so moist the best xmas cake I've ever made and tasted everyone loves the cake will use this recipe every xmas I would recommend this xmas cake to all I could eat the whole cake myself even a beginner could make this cake

Kathryn2292's picture

I made this back in October and I've been 'feeding' it with alcohol every fortnight until now...Only two days until it can be eaten!!

Teresa9's picture

Made this cake for the first time and it was easy and tasty. I did however change the recipe slightly. I used Jack Daniels Honey as my husband likes it. I soaked the fruit in the JD Honey the night before. The 100ml of alcohol consisted of JD Honey, L`Esprit D`Orange Liqueur and Cactus Jack`s Schnapps Citrus Liqueur to compliment the orange and lemon zest. I didn`t have any macadamia nuts so I used crushed walnut halves. The cake came out tasting delicious and very moist, a bit like a pudding / cake. Will diffinately make this cake again as I don`t think it will last until christmas.

actress1nce's picture

Made this last year and had a bit of a panic as I wanted to do it again this year and couldnt remember which site the recipe was on. So relieved to have found it, it's blimmin' marvelous, tastes amazing and is soooooo easy to make.

stephashbourne's picture

Very easy to make but the jury is still out on flavour. I make 'Boiled' cakes all year so was interested in the idea of a Christmas cake on the same principle, I decided to use one and retry the recipe, hopefully the second will be tastier than the first

FeeBee67's picture

Fantastically easy to make and tastes even better! Have made 2 already which were supposed to be kept for Christmas but we've polished them off already....

After completing Step 1) in the recipe, I left the fruits & liquid to stand overnight. I think it makes all the difference as the fruit absorbs the juices and brandy and tastes absolutely luscious.

Will make cake number 3 this weekend and hope it manages to last the course until the big day!

Bertie200's picture

Made this cake yesterday. Very easy to make and smells wonderful. I misread the oven temperature and did the first 45 minutes at 150 instead of 130 as stated for a fan oven. It doesn't look as if has affected the finished cake as it still did rise. Can't comment on the taste as it is for Christmas.

abbie louise's picture

I spotted this recipe while looking for a quick easy Christmas cake. As there are quite a few children that would be tucking in I substituted a few things. I used 2 tbspns of golden syrup instead of the brandy and used extra cherries instead of the nuts. It turned out fantastic and everyone loved it. Since then it seems I am always making this cake as just a fruit cake with no decoration. It's so easy and fab with a cuppa.

jasvindera chand's picture

Hi i am making this cake also for the kids so minus the alcohol.
Can you please let me know if it still comes out moist n soft?
Thank you

sanfeeney's picture

I would replace the alcohol with fresh orange juice.

KittyStir's picture

This is a fantastic and easy recipe. I will be sure to save it for future years. I fed the cake with alcohol each week on the run up to Christmas before covering with marzipan then icing. But it was delicious and moist and got the thumbs up from the family who stayed over the festive period.


Questions (18)

lazymum's picture

Can I make this recipe into smaller cakes or muffins to give as gifts? Would I just reduce the cooking time? Or would it be ok to just slice/cut to size once baked?

becmsmith's picture

I'd really like to try this. Is there any substitute for macadamia nuts - my son can't eat. Or can I just leave out altogether? Thanks

goodfoodteam's picture

If your son can't eat any nuts rather than just macadamia nuts, leave them out, or replace the weight with a little more fruit. If he can, substitute them for blanched almonds, hazelnuts or pecans. Please be aware if he is allergic that there are also ground almonds in this recipe, which you can replace with plain flour. 

sanfeeney's picture

Just leave them out. I make this every year and even made it as my wedding cake. My son is allergic to all nuts so I just omit them and there's no need to replace them with anything.

leocat55's picture

Love this cake.
Would like to increase to a 30cms round for the base of my Mum and Dads Diamond Wedding Anniversary cake, so need it to be as perfect as it has always been.
Can some one help with all the measurements please?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi leocat55, as we haven't tested this recipe using a 30cm tin we cannot guarantee perfect results and wouldn't like to just guess new measurements and timings in case you end up wasting expensive ingredients. For perfect results, why not make 2 cakes, decorate one and then keep the rest in the back to cut up so everyone gets a slice. 

theonlynamethatisn'ttaken's picture

I've adjusted the quantities to 1.5 times the original to fit a 23cm square tin, but can you tell me what the cooking time should be please?

goodfoodteam's picture
Hi there thanks for your question, yes a Swiss roll tin should work fine for this recipe.
kitsune's picture

I only have a 22cm cake tin will that be okay or should I adjust the recipe?

tejaswini's picture

Wonder why my 5 stars arent showing!

tejaswini's picture

Can I leave the simmered mixture overnight before mixing in the flour and bake it the next morning? Will it affect the texture or taste of the cake? Thanks.....

goodfoodteam's picture
Yes you can leave the simmered mixture overnight, the flavour will improve!
dogndeeds's picture

What sized tin should I use???

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there, 

For this recipe we used a 20cm round cake tin. 

Best wishes. 

Laurairene's picture

This recipe sounds fantastic - what quantities should I use for a 24 cm square cake? Many thanks

claire6772's picture

hi im making this cake rite now and it smells fantastic! please could you tell me the ingredients for a 12" square and how long i need to cook it! many thanks

cazswan's picture

Doh! I misread the oven temperature and baked my cake at 150 Celsius in a fan oven for the first 45 mins, and now I wonder if it hasn't risen a result. Can anyone tell me what height I should expect the cake to be, baked as indicated in a 20cm tin? Thanks!

krissy85's picture

Mine hasn't risen loads... I think its very fruit dense so it wont rise a great amount anyway. I baked mine in a 7inch square pan (doubled the recipe to do two cakes and halved the batter between the tins) and it is 2.5 inches deep. Hope this helps

Tips (1)

silvia115's picture

This fruit cake is delicious. I've been making boiled fruit cake for years. It was an old recipe and nice...I saw this one and wanted to change. After reading the comment below I left out the maple syrup altogether even though I love maple syrup, but don't like overly sweet cakes. It's moist and full of fruit and almost like a christmas pudding. It will be my favourite from now on. I make Christmas cakes as gifts for neighbours in place of a card. I collect large tuna tins during the year and wash them and put them away then at Christmas I make a fruit cake and divide it amongst 4 tins and bake them. I then wrap them in cellophane to give away. This year I used this recipe to do that. Hope everyone has a nice Christmas! Thanks for the lovely recipe :)