Make & mature Christmas cake

Make & mature Christmas cake

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(31 ratings)


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Cooking time

Prep: 25 mins Cook: 2 hrs, 10 mins Plus cooling

Skill level



Cuts into 12-15 slices

Prepare this fruit cake in advance and feed it regularly with rum, brandy or whisky to build the flavour and keep it moist

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition info

Nutrition per slice (12)



  • 1kg mixed dried fruits (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding
  • 250g pack butter, softened
  • 200g light soft brown sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 100g flaked almonds
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

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  1. Put the dried fruit, zests and juice, alcohol, butter and sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.
  2. Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour. Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.
  4. Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
  5. To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it. Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, November 2012

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Show comments
jul34es's picture
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made the cake at the end of september and topped it up with brandy every 2 weeks and keep wanting to taste it now,going to put orange marzipan on this week and cant wait to decorate next week.smells really good and very moist and was very easy to do.

motheronamission's picture

This is the first Christmas
cake I have ever made, it was
really easy and has turned out
great, I am looking forward to icing
it next week.

suegarnett's picture
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Very moist and delicious, full of fruit and flavour. A very grown up Christmas Cake. When cut it looked too moist and I was a bit concerned - have no fear, it's lovely.

looeybee's picture

Oops! Meant "Stir Sunday"! And the only tin I have that's deep is a 23cm one!

looeybee's picture

Missed out on making this yesterday, on "Stir it up Sunday". Only have a 23cm deep tin so am wondering if I have to increase ingredients' quantities, or decrease cooking time? Any suggestions?

norfolk25's picture

Cake is in the oven, looking forward to seeing results, with the recipe being really simple to follow.

janeslimming's picture

This cake is fantastic! I split the recipe in 2 and made 2 6'' cakes - each took about 1hr 40mins in oven. Look fantastic - I hope they taste as good.

rilrecipes's picture
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Marinated the fruit in sherry, zests and juices of orange and lemon overnight and made the cake today. Didn't have any ground cloves, so just left them out. The mixture seemed very moist when put into the tin. The recipe says cook for 2 hours but at the top it says 2 hours 10 minutes. Cooked for the longer time and the result looks perfect. Used sherry to moisten when cooked and the cake smells delicious already.

eswift's picture

Ok I have just put mine in the oven. As a complete novice I must admit I am a bit concerned.

Firstly, I thought I had mixed spice in the cupboard but didn't so put in ginger, nutmeg, ground juniper berries and a few more ground cloves. Hope this will be ok?

Secondly, I didn't have quite enough ground/flaked almonds but did have some chopped mixed nuts so put them in to make up the numbers.

Thirdly,what about the top of the cake when cooking? I did the newspaper bit and sort of folded the edges over so it was partly covered but not completely. Have I done the right thing?

Things like this annoy me because I just won't know until Christmas and being a complete amateur I don't really have a bank of knowledge/experience to draw from.

Any guidance is appreciated.

dasarp17's picture

awesome cake. all james martin receipies come out great!!
ve tried out a lot his cooking n no failures.
thank you.

stellafrances1's picture
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started this last night, cake now cooking, if it tastes as great as it smells it will be the best cake i've made. swapped the cloves for nutmeg and added chopped almonds instead of flaked for a bit of crunch, but perfection doesn't need changing really

dtemple's picture
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This cake turned out really well. I've drizzled over some rum every couple of weeks since making it; can't wait to taste it at Christmas!

lynnedavidson's picture
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I made individual cakes using this recipe and baked them in condensed milk tins for 1 hr. Recipe makes a very tasty fruit packed cake.