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)

jmcook's picture

lovely reciepe the only thing is can i ice it and decorate like a normal one

nicolien22's picture

Great recipe! I have been making this cake for years now. Made this years yesterday afternoon..I always make 2 at the time, and NEVER have any leftovers! I use blanched almonds and brazil nuts, instead of macadamia's, and extra glace cherries. When the cakes are done I leave them in their tins, wrap them in extra baking parchment and a plastic bag. Then they are stored in the cellar.

nbnicky's picture

Have made three of these cakes each year for the last 4 years. They are delicious, easy to make and fool proof. I doubt I will ever use any other recipe for Christmas cake again.

flosssy's picture

I love this cake. I actually made 3 of them for my wedding cake in April and then another 2for my two tiered birthday cake in October. I always omit the whole nuts and just replace with more dried fruit and ground almonds. Cooking times and recipe ratios for bigger and smaller versions would be much appreciated as I only just got away with the 10 inch bottom tier...a little puddingy! Tastes divine though. Beautifully moist and popular with everyone. Am gearing up to make 3 next weekend for Christmas cakes!

clarence49's picture

I have used this recipe since it was first published. Living in the USA, fruitcake has a bad reputation. The joke is the same cake is passed around from one person to another each it is so bad.. nobody would dare eat it!
My American husband, adult daughter and son LOVE this cake. I made a double recipe to be one of the cakes at our daughter's wedding in September...and she is a Pastry Chef at a 5-Star hotel. Love the addition of the ground almonds. I am lucky that ground almond flour is readily available here.
I read BBCGoodFood on line each morning and bring back the magazine when ever I go back home to England.

stephenjoanne's picture

Cake took 2 3/4 hours but look great. Did anyone else's take so long ? (Electric oven)

stephenjoanne's picture

Made this cake tonight and its still in the oven. I have put it in a 7inch tin so I'm guessing that's why it's taken longer to cook. Won't be eating until Xmas just a little worried that cake feels a little rubbery like its got a skin on it. Is that due to the baking technique?

nosilac's picture

Cake tin size stated to left of cooking time panel at top of instructions - makes a 20cm round cake.

kt08kel's picture

Hi, Can anyone tell me what size cake tin is needed for this recipe. Thanks

kt08kel's picture

Hi, Can anyone tell me what size cake tini need to use for this recipie? Thanks

tilly44's picture

This recipe whizzed round the expat Brits in Brittany last Christmas and deservedly so. After nearly 50 years of trying many different recipes this is the one I am sticking with. Easy, fail safe and impossible to tell it has not been made in the traditional way.

michyd29's picture

This cake looks really moist and nice. Will give it a go for Christmas...

FlourCoveredGirl's picture

Fabulous cake. Incredibly easy to make, and tastes superb.

A bit more detail:
I tripled the quantity to fill a 30cm square tin (the type that divides in to 9).
As I don't have a saucepan big enough to cook all the ingredients in one go I pre-soaked the fruit, and then added the cooled butter and sugar mix, and then followed the rest of the instructions. I wrapped the tin with a triple layer of brown paper, and half-way through cooking I also loosely covered it with greaseproof paper.
I swapped the macadamias for almonds, and added some ginger too.

The result is an excellent, very moist and (slightly Christmas-pudding-y) cake, that was a breeze to make.

lemaid's picture

Everyone loved this cake when I made it last year, so just looking up the recipe to make another this year. I leave out the nuts because I don't like them but everything else is per recipe. Great simple recipe.

rose-marie's picture

Made this cake on the 13th October, just had a peek at it, smells and looks delicious. Made this cake last year, so much easier with the simmer method. It was well approved by everybody and I cannot see how anybody cannot succeed making this perfect cake. We love it, all I have to do now is give it a little more brandy before Christmas.

sophie_cook's picture

I baked this cake last week for my husband, and he loved it. He said it was the best fruit cake I've ever made.
I will be making a couple more in the coming weeks to decorate as Christmas gifts!

rvreeds's picture

I have made this cake as our family christmas cake for the last 3 years and it is always popular. This year there will be fewer of us around to eat it so am thinking of splitting the recipe and making 2 smaller cakes - any tips/advice on baking times for 2 x 18 or 20cm cakes each using half the cake mix?

chompfest's picture

hi abby1991 - how long did you feed/store it? I think the longer it keeps the less likely it is to crumble - that said I made mine in early October last year ad cut it at Christmas having fed it every week with cherry brandy and that still crumbled - no one cared!

abby1991's picture

Great cake, and tasted lovely too, everyone loved it! but can anyone give me tips on how to stop it crumbling?


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