Make & mature Christmas cake

Make & mature Christmas cake

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(45 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 (76)

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!

MummaP's picture

I made this without the ground or flaked almonds due to a nut allergy but other than that followed the recipe to the letter. It is a phenomenally easy to make and scrumptious Christmas cake. Would totally recommend , even to novice cooks like myself. I made it at the start of November and fed it 4 times with brandy before icing with marzipan and royal icing. It has been a big hit with family and friends! Oh and I wrapped it in grease proof paper not cling film, I thought cling film might make the cake sweat a bit!

helensmelonz's picture

This year was my first year making a christmas cake. I wanted an easy to follow recipe as was making it with my five year old son. This recipe was so easy, and the cake looked perfect when cooked. We have enjoyed feeding it right up to Christmas, and have finally taken our first slice. A beautiful version of a Christmas cake, not bitter like the black varieties you get. It is almondy and very moist. My fiancé has even been enjoying it with custard and cream as a dessert. Couldn't recommend it enough!

mauhea's picture

I've made this recipe 2 years in a row now and if the family have it their way I'll continue to do so for a long while! Both times the cake has come out perfectly without any amendments to the recommended weights and method. Previously I've fed mine with Spiced Rum and iced with Marzipan and Royal Icing which has been a huge hit. Next year I'm looking forward to experimenting with a different traditional spirit (maybe a few depending on how many orders I get from the family!)

Marce69's picture

Can't believe how easy & tasty this is. Never used this method before but definitely recommend it.

Lyncovelli's picture

My sister and I got together and made 4 cakes in all, 2 at a time, this is a fantastic, easy to make, super moist cake. Yum Yum!

raymond201's picture

I have made this christmas cake twice now and it comes out great five stars all the way for this one. Oh and by the way I'm a bloke and don't do a lot of cooking. Happy Christmas everyone.

SDCripps's picture

I am so pleased to see the great comments on this Christmas fruit cake. This will be my first fruit cake and if it tastes half as good as my mother's fruit cakes I will be very pleased.
Everything in the receipt makes sense so I hope I won't make a muck of it.

HanaLucy's picture

Really disappointed with this, I followed this recipe to a tee, including the cooking time and it came out still goey, I thought there was something up when most other recipes have a cooking time of 4 hours. In the end it went for 3 hours 45 mins. I think I'll be sticking to the professional recipes next year.

HV1's picture

Then you didn't check correctly or cook it long enough. It is very simple, all ovens are different and cook at different times. This is a professional recipe.

snelbar's picture

I am in the process of making Christmas cake for the first time ever! I don't bake often so am curious to know what the purpose of the newspaper tied around the tins is, I would be grateful for some clarification.

Lyncovelli's picture

The newspaper is for insulation so that the side do not dry out :)

wmevans001's picture

The paper around the outside - whether it's newspaper or brown parcel paper is to stop the outside edges burning before the inside of the cake is cooked during the long slow baking process.

Brenda harrrison's picture

What size cake tin should I use

mouseandrod's picture

I made this cake for the first time last Christmas and I have just made it again today.
It's the best Christmas cake I have ever made and it received many complements for it being so moist and tasty. It's the only Christmas cake recipe I will ever use from now on.
It is a really easy to follow recipe. Definitely 5 stars.

boulding2's picture

Looking forward to stir up Sunday made this cake two years running great recipe last year I cooked it in a bunte tin decorated it with holly leaves and red berries made out of fondant icing looked like a Christmas wreath and it was so moist but I might try adding some dark treacle this year thanks for tip bernadette709

Bernadette709's picture

Made this a couple of years ago and really, felt like Christmas.

Just popped another in the oven for this year and hope it's as good as the last. Added a couple of soup spoons of dark treacle to give it a bit of a darker colour.

HV1's picture

Not good adding that, will make it bitter.

louiseoc's picture

I made this last Christmas as my first Christmas cake ever and it is amazing, the ingredients set me back about £20 although it makes a large cake that lasted us through the festive period for an entire month! I made mine mid Nov and fed it every week for 4-5 weeks a tablespoon of brandy, it was moist, tasty, very fruity and just delicious. I covered mine in marzipan and white fondant icing, a real hit, thanks James Martin! ;)


Questions (30)

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

francesbeer's picture

How do I increase ingredients for a 23cm round tin

Blouboo's picture

I have just made a 23cm cake I used 1 1/2 times the ingredients. Have you already made yours? If so I was wondering how long it took to cook the larger cake? X

Tracey S13's picture

How far in advance can this be made?

snobbles62's picture

I wonder what are the quantities for a 12 inch round cake tin.
Again how long would this size of cake take to bake.

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi snobbles62 & jmhutchie thank you for getting in touch, this recipe was triple tested using a 20cm / 9 inch cake tin so we cannot guarantee perfect results for different sized tins and quantities. We wouldn't like to guess timings or quantities for larger or smaller versions in case you ended up wasting expensive ingredients. It would be better to find a recipe which uses a cake tin in the size you have or using the tin specified in the recipe as baking is a bit of a science and if you simply halve or double the ingredients the cake structure may not hold correctly. Really hope you find a recipe which suits your needs - let us know how you get on. 

Blouboo's picture

Oh no I'm worried now as I've just put my 23cm cake in the oven :( I hope it will be ok? I used 1 1/2 times the ingredients and it filled the tin perfectly, I was going to cook for 3hrs and see how it is? I'm quite worried after reading your comment about it not holding structure properly and I'm worried it won't cook properly now.

snobbles62's picture

I love this cake and I am planning on making it for my daughter's wedding. Can you advise me on quantities and cooking times appropriate for a 12 inch round cake tin? Thank you

jmhutchie's picture

Hi, I am going to use this recipe for a wedding cake. It is 5 tiers. What will the quantities need to be for 12 inch 10 inch 8 inch 6 inch and 4 inch square cakes, as the quantities on here are for 20cm deep tin


Tips (2)

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...