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)

anogatzea's picture

I make this cake for the first time this year and so did exactly what it said - no extra feeding or fiddling (reckoning to try it straight before "fixing" it) 100% moist. Needs nothing - just follow the instructions (Actually, re-reading the recipe I think I may have forgotten the warm brandy bit at the end. If you are making this for children you could leave this out without worrying)

LeanneJames's picture

I made this cake. It was truly amazing. It was moist and delicious. It was so easy I made another one, to eat straight away. I put the 2nd batch into cupcake patties and then in a large muffin tin. These were excellent to bring out individually over Christmas, with a coffee when friends came over. I didn't have all of the ingredients for the 2nd batch, so modified the recipe to suit what i did have. They were still amazing. I forwarded the recipe to a number of friends. They loved it too. Thanks

LeanneJames's picture

Reading other comments, I wanted to add, that I didnt have brandy but found an unopened bottle of Artisan Butterscotch Mead in the back of the liquor cabinet, so used this instead. I also spiked the cake when it came out of the oven and drizzled the mead over it. I also left the original baking paper on the cake once cooled and then just wrapped more baking paper around it and then the tin foil. Then I put it in a tin and hid it in a cupboard, so no one ate it before christmas day. When I opened it, I could instantly tell it was going to be AMAZING (which it was). The paper peeled off perfectly, just as you would have expected it to. I also used Brazil nuts, but can imagine macadamia would have been amazing in it.

tejaswini's picture

I have made this delicious cake at least six times last year since finding it online! An instant hit at home as well as with friends. Making it again today, however, I was wondering if there would be any difference in the taste and texture if the simmered fruit and brandy mixture is kept overnight! Timely suggestion would really make a huge difference......

LeanneJames's picture

I'm not a chef, but i think the longer you leave the simmered fruit in the brandy for, the better. I think it would make it more moist and have a better flavour, as the fruit have soaked in the liquor and absorbed it. I am soooo pleased I found this recipe. I never need another one.

bowdenei's picture

Not sure why my 5 stars didn't show up, but I do give it full marks!!

bowdenei's picture

A definite 5 star recipe!! I keep coming back to this one. Not only easy but very very good.

GreenendofSURREY's picture

This has just come out of the oven and appears to be rather splendid. However, to my mind they should tell you to prep the tin first, I did because I have done so before but if I was a beginner and I got to the end of the recipe to discover that a) I hadn't done my tin, and b) I didn't know how to, I would be panicking,.

livingstone21's picture

I made this last year as I posted at the time. With just a few variations of my own and iam going to make this years tomorrow. I have never tasted a lovelier cake. Absolutely fabulous for christmas.

ticket's picture this is the first time I have made a Christmas Cake. Having looked at all the positive and helpful comments I decided to give this one a go. I used brandy soaked mixed fruit rather than add the brandy separately. I hope this approach works. I don't intend to 'feed' the cake so fingers crossed it remains moist. I have just taken the cake out of the oven and it smells amazing! I'm rating it on smell alone at this time!

Bentleybird's picture

Has anyone baked this in a square tin? If so what size and for how long. Thanks

GreenendofSURREY's picture

We did it, in an 8" square today. December 1st, and we uplifted every thing by one third.

lizleicester's picture

Can't rate this just yet (it's in the oven) but trust the fact that fellow bakers have rated it so highly on this site. I've used Brazil nuts instead of Macadamias and a weird Spanish brandy imitation instead of brandy but will feed it with the genuine article because I know the flavour will be detectable. It feels right to be doing this on Stir Up Sunday despite it being later than my usual Christmas cake production!

turkishjelly's picture

Excellent recipe. So simple to follow, and makes a delicious moist fruitcake. I made this cake for my family last Christmas and have just baked another one for this year at their request. I feed with a tbsp of brandy once a week, alternating the feeding between the top of the cake and the bottom. This ensures the cake stays moist for months.

bigbirdgrub's picture

I am going to give this recipe a try this year rather than the Delia one I have baked for the last 6+ years. Just one question - does anyone have any tips re icing etc? I usually make my cake in October/November and feed every couple of weeks. I then marzipan it, leave it again and then ice it. Should I do the same with this one? I get the impression that this cake doesn't need to be made quite as far in advance as a traditional one. All help gratefully received.

sarahliane's picture

I didn't make it too far in advance. I made it this time last year, fed it twice over a couple of weeks and marzipan'ed' it at the beginning of December then iced it the week before Christmas. It really is worth all the good reviews, not as heavy as the usual Christmas cakes you get. Highly recommended.

philclarke9's picture

I also used to do the Delia one but changed to this a few years ago. This cake is so much nicer. I feed it every week, and marzipan and ice it just in the same way as before.

lynwoodhouse's picture

Make this every year, varying fruit to whatever I have in cupboard. It is fab and so easy, if it wasn't I know I wouldn't bother. the fact you don't need to keep unwrapping it to feed it is a blessing and you really don't need to as it's very moist. Wholeheartedly recommend it.

kerryannb's picture

Very easy to make, smells delicious, hopefully it will taste as good at Christmas

clarab's picture

I've made the "Delia" Christmas cake for the last 10 years but this is outstanding (sorry Delia) and I'll be making it again for this Christmas.


Questions (21)

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


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