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 (256)

lizziebanks's picture

I made two of these for the first time at the weekend - one each for mine and my boyfriend's family Christmases. I've never made a Christmas cake before, but it was so easy!

I made one as per the recipe, and one without any nuts to cater for different diets in our families.

I chose this recipe because of its fantastic reviews and the generous glug of cherry brandy, but also because I made a cherry simnel cake from Mary Cadogan's recipe last Easter and it was absolutely divine. If this Christmas cake tastes half as good as that simnel cake, I'll be a very happy bunny indeed!!

neilsmum's picture

I know I've left making my Cristmas cake a bit late, but it's in the oven now and smells devine. Got to b the easiest cake I'e ever made. I used walnuts instad of macadamias

LuluLolly's picture

Excellent!! I made it for the first time last year and it was a huge success. Super easy to make and so wonderfully moist. I've just made it again today and this time I added some sour cherries and dried cranberries. I can't wait to eat it in a few weeks!

toffeebonbon's picture

I made my first one 3 weeks ago and it went within a week. Fab recipe. I couldnt find all spice but used 2 tsp of mixed spice instead of that and the cinnamon. just making another one now

burnsidegoddess's picture

This was the first Christmas cake I made and it's been a great success every year since first published. So simple to put together, although I always find it needs a lot longer in the oven than the recipe suggests - whether cooking by gas or electric.

karenlw's picture

I'd never made a Christmas cake before so I decided to try this recipe last year and it was fantastic, easy to make and went down a treat with everyone who had a piece. Shop bought Christmas cakes are now a thing of the past in our house!!!

montgomery01's picture

Really looking forward to making this for our family christmas cake this year. Please tell me the dimensions of a suitable tin to use. Thankyou

teresahall's picture

This recipe sounds lovely. I would like to use the mixture in a 2 lb loaf tin. Would anyone know what would be the best temp and cooking time to use? I havent a clue

hilscymru's picture

Thankyou Mary for sharing this recipe.
I will never use another recipe again.
I took some cake into work and the comments I had were delicious amazing stunning. It really is moist the only variation I made to it was to soak the dried fruit in a little brandy and orange juice for a cpl of days prior to cooking it.
If anyone is stuck for a last minute christmas cake this wont fail you, I made a taster for us to try which we ate the next day and it was still beautiful although I would recommend leaving it to mature

mettamac's picture

Have been making this since it came out in 2002 along with the Mary's Xmas Pud recipe,
Fantastic, everyone loves it, a sure fire hit.
This is now our family recipe and I have passed it on to many friends.
Love it.

jose1946's picture

I used fkaked almonds instead of macademia nuts. Children prefer them.

I've made this cake every year for the past 8 years. Always moist and yummy.

mercedes13's picture

My cake tin is 23cm or 9inch round will it be ok to use this size of tin also do I have to replace the nuts with something else if I don't use them.

loustar14's picture

This was my first attempt at a christmas cake and I will definately be making it again!! Easy to make and deliciously moist. I'm going to try making a large square cake, cut into four, ice them and give them away as the perfect christmas present.

maxcat's picture

sorry forgot to rate it!

maxcat's picture

I have made this cake since '02 and would not make any other Christmas Cake!
I sometimes vary the fruit and nuts (and alcohol variety!) but this method is foolproof.
I have always let mine mature for at least a month

denneyb's picture

This is simply the most simple and delicious Christmas Cake ever!
This will be the 6th year in a row I have made this cake. Everyone who tastes the cake asks for the recipe.

chocolatequeen's picture

I have made this cake for the last two or three years. Really easy, always nice and moist - nothing worse for me than dry fruit cake. Last year I made a larger square one, cut it into four, iced them and gave them to family. Everyone who received one really liked it.

tourer-dan's picture

Has anyone eaten this cake straight away or does it have to mature? I need to make a fruit cake for sunday!!! (and it's friday)

lyngreen's picture

I used this recipe to make the 'one' of an eighteenth birthday cake and everyone loved it. Many thanks for providing me with just the right recipe.

sallygee's picture

Of course the best fruit cake ever "delicious" the first one each year made gets eaten straight away, I then make several more for family and friends. No need to change recipe as like it the way it is.


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