Honey saffron Christmas cake

Honey saffron Christmas cake

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(21 ratings)

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 2 hrs, 30 mins


Cuts into 12 slices
Has all the flavours of Christmas without being too heavy and can be made at the last minute too

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal613
  • fat28g
  • saturates11g
  • carbs82g
  • sugars67g
  • fibre3g
  • protein9g
  • salt0.6g
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For the cake

  • 225g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing



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

  • 2 tbsp brandy



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

  • pinch saffron (about 1⁄4tsp strands)



    The stigma of a type of crocus, saffron threads have a pungent and distinctive aroma and flavour…

  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 4 egg



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

  • 225g plain flour
  • 50g ground almond
  • 1 tsp 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…

  • 300g raisin
  • 300g sultana
  • 100g natural-coloured glacé cherry, halved
  • 85g mixed peel
  • 50g whole blanched almond, roughly chopped


    arr-mund or al-mund

    Sweet almonds have a subtle fragrance that lends itself well to baking and also works well with…

  • 50g whole blanched hazelnut, roughly chopped



    Grown in Europe and the US, hazelnuts are encased in a smooth, hard brown shell but are most…

  • 50g walnut pieces



    Walnuts are one of the most popular and versatile of all nuts. When picked young, they're…

To soak

  • 3 tbsp brandy



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

  • 2 tbsp honey



    Honey is made by bees from the nectar they collect from flowers. Viscous and fragrant, it's…


  1. Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Butter and line a round, deep 20cm cake tin with two layers of baking parchment (see Knowhow, below). Tie a few sheets of newspaper around the outside of the tin, level with the top of the baking parchment.

  2. Heat the brandy in a small pan, then add the saffron and leave to infuse off the heat for a few mins. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl, then beat together until creamy and smooth. Mix the fruit, nuts and brandy saffron mix into the batter and stir well.

  3. Spoon into the prepared tin, smooth the top and make a slight dip in the middle. Bake for 1½ hrs, then cover loosely with foil to stop the top over-browning. Turn oven down to 140C/fan 120C/gas 1 and cook for 1 hr more until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin then, while it’s still warm, prod the cake all over with a skewer.

  4. Mix the brandy and honey together and spoon over the cake. Wrap up well in foil and keep in an airtight container until Christmas, feeding with more honeyed brandy every so often.

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Comments (41)

lil d's picture

I have used this recipe for the last three years it's light moist and tastes delicious . Just taken this year's out oven mmmmmmm lovely . Merry Christmas

lil d's picture

I have just made this cake and it was so simple and if it taste and smells as good as it looks we are on to a winner just tasted it mmmmmmm. Will now have to make another one for christmas.

co1ette's picture

I made these into muffin size indivdual cakes for presents, finishing as tradditonal style Christmas cake - marzipan and icing. Absolutely Fab!

1948sienna's picture

This will be my third year of making this cake. I love it. Whilst you can make it at the last minute I find making it 2 or 3 weeks ahead is great as I give it extra soakings with the honeyed brandy. As it is so easy I have also made it for Christmas Gifts. Lovely for older friends and family who do not need things andy more but find a good piece of cake very comforting.

armojane's picture

We love this cake, make it every year and soon gets eaten. We make small ones as well to give as presents, just need to keep an eye on them when cooking the time is a bit hit and miss.

ade_in_the_kitchen's picture

I've baked this cake every year since it appeared in Good Food magazine in 2007. This year will be my 5th version and each one has been sublime!

I've found that it does take nearer to 4 hours to cook but that is never an issue for me. I guess that every oven is different. The smells that waft through the house as it cooks are very festive and instantly lift the spirits. I also soak it another couple of times and the result is a light and moist Christmas cake.

It is now as much a part of my family Christmas as mince pies and mulled wine.

superduty's picture

PAUL ( USA) made his cake for christmas did not change anything not even the cooking times and it turned out fab: i did not ice the cake it looked to good to cover up

lisafry743's picture

I've given this cake a high rating as it went down a storm with my entire family. I won't be making it again this year though as I found the saffron a bit strong - personal taste. I had to cook it for an hour longer than the recipe suggested but it turned out well. I marzipaned & iced my cakel. Going to try the figgy christmas cake recipe this year :)

laup21's picture

hi i would like to make this xmas cake. but what i would like to as it doesnt say on the recipe how do i go about icing the cake please can some one let me know asap as i want to make my cake soon . thank you laura

kirstyl's picture

this is the third year i've made this cake. Everybody loves it. Its easy to make. I find it takes a litttle longer to cook but only about 15 mins. This is the only xmas cake recipe i've ever made and i love it!

mkatta's picture

I've been making this cake for the past two Chrismas's and will be making it again this year.

I replace the cherries with dried prunes. It is the only Christmas cake I'm able to eat and enjoy.

I also need some tips on decorating.. I never seem to get the finishing touches right!

I usually make it around Dec. 15th and feed it 3-4 times..and is ready in time for Xmas day!

tommyhyh's picture

I'm making this cake for christmas this year, and it's my first time ever making a christmas cake. Is it ok to start baking it now then (I have no idea when to bake a xmas cake but I know it needs to age and mature and you gotta feed it)

Is it ok to make today, as it says 'can be baked last minute' then feed it how often?

lithuania's picture

I made this cake for christmas, after reading everyones comments i had to try it, my cake also took longer to bake a total of five hours but it was well worth it everyone loved that it wasn't as heavy as the normal christmas cake we have. I will be making this cake next christmas if not before then if my husband has anything to do with it. (don't be put of by the cooking times)

lithuania's picture

I made this cake for christmas because i wanted to try something different from the norm, after reading everyones comments i thought i would give it a try i am so glad i did and will be making it again next christmas. I also had to up my cooking time, the cake took four and a half hours to bake. (don't be put of by the cooking time)

anniem1's picture

Made this cake again this year and it has worked out wonderfully well yet again.....a real winner of a cake. My cake only took 3 hours in total to cook this time....not sure why but do watch it from about 3 hours onwards just in case!

samuel18's picture

This is a wonderful light fruit cake. My husbands mother was a chef and he said it is the best cake he has ever tasted. my mum also loved it, but my kids who hate nuts and fruit loved it too. fab

murielann's picture

I read the comments about this cake before I made it and expected it to need longer cooking time. However, it did not! After the rcommended time I checked the cake with my skewer and it was cooked. I did not wrap newspaper around it and I did turn the oven down. So I was very pleased. Now we cannot wait to see how it will be at Christmas. It is now "in storage " waiting for it's next feed!

janetony's picture

I omit the 150g of nuts and add dried cranberries [or any other dried fruit to make up the 150g of ingredients ] so the balance is right for the mix.use warmed apricot jam to fix marzipan to cake,let this 'harden off' for a day or so before icing so the surface is dry or the almonds'oil will seep through and spoil the appearance of the icing
Hmmm...I've just checked out the 'step-by-step' guide to this cake......first step-raw ingredients in a bowl.second step-finished cake being'fed' ..come on now-let's see what it's like after only 1.5hrs in oven..?!?! a little cake dressing tips wouldn't go amiss either.

janetony's picture

Im about to make this cake again this year-and remember how long it took to bake last time, so am well prepared!! this must be the best ever cake I've made or tasted- it's just the mutts nuts!!

mandyjones59's picture

Made this cake last year and intend to make it again this year. It was probably the nicest Christmas Cake I have made. Comments from everyone who ate were positive.


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