Make & mature Christmas cake

Make & mature Christmas cake

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(51 ratings)

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


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: per slice (12)

  • kcal678
  • fat29g
  • saturates12g
  • carbs88g
  • sugars79g
  • fibre3g
  • protein9g
  • salt0.6g
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  • 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
  • zest and juice 1 orange



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

  • zest and juice 1 lemon



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

  • 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding



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

  • 250g pack butter, softened



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

  • 200g light soft brown sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 100g ground almond
  • 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…

  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 100g flaked almond
  • 4 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  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.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (95)

cupcake86's picture

Regthedog - I did not soak the fruit overnight. I followed the method exactly and it worked out perfectly.

cupcake86's picture

Baked this Christmas Cake recipe today and it worked out wonderfully. Simple instructions and very quick. I used Jamesons whiskey. The only time-consuming part was the double lining, now that i have the hang of it, it will be easier next time.

RachelRagsdale's picture

Smells delicious. The top of my cake has burnt slightly, I'm going to slice a thin layer off the top before I ice it.
Do you think it would be best to leave the cake intact during the feeding stages and only chop the top off right before I ice it?

HV1's picture

Best to leave intact in my opinion. Mine has risen & not flat so have been feeding it then will cut.

helers's picture

First time making a Christmas Cake but had a load of fruit left after making mince and it doesn't really keep so decided this year to make a cake.
Apart from the carrot cake I make this was the easiest cake ever. The only time consuming part was the double lining of the tin!
I used sultanas, raisins, cranberries and morello cherries for my fruit and followed the recipe as written with one exception - I beat the eggs a little before adding.
I used a 23cm tin as that was all I had and 150c oven It is certainly cooked and I am a little concerned that it just might be ever so slightly over cooked. I think size of time and knowing one's own oven is essential..
It's wrapped up and I will feed it with brandy, but it does look the part and smells delightful.
My rating is for ease of baking and instructions as I won't tast until Christmas.

Regthedog's picture

Did anyone soak fruit over night please?

HV1's picture

Yes I did, but you don't have to. I just always do as was taught this in college. Obviously haven't tried the cake to see the difference.

Tam In Tas's picture

I am about to start this awesome cake for the second year. It is a very heavy cake to hold and it does take a little longer to bake but it is so worth it. If it has browned but not cooked fully just cover it with some foil so it doesn't burn. I wrapped my cooled cake in glad wrap and foil over the top of that to store and it worked out nicely. I also decided not to ice my cake and it was equally as good with a bit of butter or some custard.

clintwestmetal's picture

Do you stick to feeding it every 2 weeks?

mandawitch's picture

I have had this in the oven for two and a half hours and not even nearly cooked! ?

clintwestmetal's picture

Quantities and tin all the size required? Do you have an oven thermometer?

My oven sits about 20 degrees cooler than the dial states so one of them is invaluable.

MiaScraps's picture

I made this last night and it cooked up wonderfully in two hours. Did you cook at 150C or 302F?

Michelle Aston's picture

Could I store this in the garage? Or would it be to cold

Serreche's picture

Hi I have just made this & unwrapped it after leaving it overnight to cool. It looks fab - however it seems really heavy is this normal? I know it has 1kg of fruit in it. Just wondering

rosemaryeluned's picture

Has anyone baked this cake in an 8 inch (20cm) square tin? I realise this is a bigger tin than an 8 inch round!

MiaScraps's picture

Yes, I used an eight inch square. Came out great!

CordeliaChase's picture

For her Christmas cake recipe Delia Smith recommends either a 20 cm round tin or an 18 cm square tin, so I'd say that's the size of square tin you might want to use with this recipe too. I've been wondering about making a square cake too, but I'm worried that the corners of the cake will feel tough or dry. Good luck!

jtweedie's picture

Incredible recipe. I have used this the last two Christmases and it has always been loved by everyone. Only things I change is I don't put in the blanched almonds in because I don't like almonds. In terms of alcohol choice, I think a good port makes for the nicest cake. Really moist, delicious cake.

Angiem333's picture

How long do I cook this recipe for if making into mini Christmas cakes?

xdivax's picture

I made this for Christmas 2015 and it was delicious. I'll be making it again and again for Christmases to come!


Questions (38)

SJB_93's picture

Once this cake has matured for about a month, and then been iced etc, does anyone know how long it will then keep for? Thanks

goodfoodteam's picture

Thanks for your question. It depends how you're planning to decorate. If using marzipan and fondant icing, you can do this a few weeks before. You'll find a method in this recipe.

Andriaforever29's picture

Is the alcohol too much??? Can i replace some of the alcohol with something else??? Do you have suggestions??

goodfoodteam's picture

Thanks for your question, the alcohol will burn off when simmered so you don't need to worry about the cake being too boozy. We haven't tested this cake with anything other than alcohol but sometimes people do replace alcohol with tea in fruit cakes. You could try this Christmas cake made with tea as an alternative.

Angiem333's picture

Hi I want to make this recipe as mini Christmas cakes, how long do I cook for in fan oven?

goodfoodteam's picture

We can't say how long without knowing the size of the tins and also testing ourselves to be really precise. However, with a Christmas cake recipe, it's not such a problem if you open the oven door a bit early so we'd say keep an eye on the cakes and when you think they're nearly done, open the oven and press to see if firm and springy. If not, return to the oven for a little longer.

last edited: 18:11, 1st Nov, 2016
Angiem333's picture

Hi can I feed it orange juice instead of booze and do I have to use juices from lemon n orange?

goodfoodteam's picture

Thanks for your question, orange juice is a better choice than lemon juice as it's sweet. You can use it as an alternative but because it doesn't keep as well as alcohol, we'd suggest eating the cake within a few months. Another option is to use cold tea as in this recipe.

tebays's picture

Having made James make and mature cake successfully many times I have been asked to make it for a Wedding Cake.
10 or 11 inch square! How do I adjust the ingredients and how long do I cook for?
I do hope you can help on this urgent matter?
Becky, Cumbria

goodfoodteam's picture

A square tin holds more mixture than a round tin of the same width, which means if you used the same amount of mixture it would fill a 7 inch square tin. So, we suggest using 1 1/2 times the mixture, so 6 eggs 1 1/2 kg fruit etc. for a 10-11 inch tin depending on how deep you want the cake to be. Keep the oven temperature the same, and turn the cake during baking, as the corners tend to cook faster than the middle. We haven't tested it ourselves, so cannot guarantee perfect results but we estimate it will take 2 3/4 - 3 hours so check after 2 1/2 hours and cover with foil if starting to brown more than you want it to.

Blouboo's picture

Hi guys, I've just put my cake in the oven ( it smells amazing) I've done 1 1/2 times the ingredients to make a larger cake, how long would you suggest cooking it for 3hrs? Did yours take the suggested 2hrs or was it longer and also did any of you cover the top at all to prevent it browning to much? Thanks in advance. X

StellaKankam's picture

I would like to know where the cake is stored after baking till it's ready to be decorated during Christmas?

jessicarichardson's picture

What is the purpose of the newspaper? I struggled to get mine around the tin neatly. Is there a tried and tested method?

jo@lilaccottage's picture

Hi im going to try to make this cake today but prefer a darker colour, some say treacle but do i add this as an extra or emit some juice etc , thank you

goodfoodteam's picture

The easiest way to get a darker cake is to swap the light brown sugar for a dark muscovado sugar, although you could add 1 tbsp black treacle too. For a darker richer taste choose whisky or brandy instead of sherry and the darker dried fruits.

4Achieves9KS's picture

I have just mixed this cake but it seems very wet I dont want to waste all the ingredients. Can anybody else that has made this cake tell me whether the mixture is quite wet before it is cooked.

Marce69's picture

Yes it is very runny but mine cooked in 2 hours 10 minutes, left to cool in tin as instructed and it cooked through perfectly.

FionaVTaylor's picture

How much icing/marzipan is needed to cover the standard 20cm cake?

goodfoodteam's picture

Thanks for your question, 750g marzipan will cover the top and sides of a 20cm cake. If you just want to decorate the top use 500g. The same quantities apply when using fondant icing.

scovell66's picture

I am making my friend's wedding cake but she does not want any alcohol in it. How long in advance can I make it? Thanks


Tips (3)

shady95's picture

I am going to make this today with fruit that has been soaking since January...I start the process in January by putting mixed fruit, fresh lemon, orange & lime ride and juice, I then pour in a mix of spirits, normally what's left over from new year, including: brandy, rum, peach schnapps, Bacardi, vodka, whiskey, Tia Maria, drambui etc. The only spirit I don't put in is gin, I've tried it before and it leaves a funny taste!
Then through the year, I stir it, adding more fruit and the dregs left over from parties. I use this mix for my cake, my Christmas pudding and mincemeat.
I made a batch of Christmas puddings 3 years as an experiment to see how long they would last. Last years was the 2 year one and it was absolutely out of this world, so I am so looking forward to year 3! I will be making a spare just in case.

g00df00d's picture

I have the newspaper/brown paper extending 3 or 4 cms above the top of the tin then rest a double piece of brown paper, with a 3 cm hole cut in the centre, on top of the newspaper/brown paper. This prevents the top from browning too quickly but the air can still escape through the centre hole.

Inlovewithashropshirelad's picture

I made this cake in Seattle for my English sweetheart. He suggested a few modifications based on his mom's technique. I soaked the fruit and peel overnight in 100ml of brandy. I added a couple of spoonfuls of dark treacle and a splash of almond extract. While this horrified the family in England, I did not ice it. I glazed the cake with apricot jam and covered it in marzipan, but he doesn't like the sugar in the traditional icing. I decorated the cake with holly designs made of sprinkled green sugar, placed a ring of blanched almonds around the edge, and lightly dusted it all with white icing sugar. Once fed with brandy, my cake was declared the genuine article. My American family loved it, too! Much nicer than the overly sweet dense fruit cakes we grew up on...