Christmas cake in pan with spoon

How to feed a Christmas cake

Stirring up a traditional fruitcake this season? Read on for our easy guide to feeding a cake and which alcohol to use, plus discover our best ever fruitcake recipes.

Whether you’re making your Christmas cake in advance or baking a fruitcake for a special occasion, it’s likely you’ll be feeding your cake – and we’ve got all the tips you need to make sure it turns out brilliantly. Try our top fruitcake recipes to impress your guests, or watch our video guide on how to make a Christmas cake for even more advice.

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How to make Christmas cake

Why do you feed a cake?

Cake being fed alcohol with spoon

There are a lot of benefits to feeding a fruitcake. It will help keep your cake moist (especially if you are storing it for a while) as well as give it extra flavour – and, if you’re a little heavy-handed, it will also develop that characteristic boozy kick. If you intend to keep your fruitcake for a long time (like more than three months), freeze it either before or after feeding it.

Will this work for any fruitcake?

Traditional fruitcakes are dark, rich, packed with fruit, and high in sugar, and are often baked for several hours. They’ll keep for a long time, so feeding helps maintain a soft texture.

Modern fruitcakes tend to be lighter in colour and texture, and are cooked for less time. These also keep for a shorter length of time, and the alcohol soaks into the cake in a different way. While you can feed either type of fruitcake, you’ll want to keep an eye on how the alcohol is absorbed and stop when they’ve had enough. For example, if your cake leaves a damp patch on your work surface, stop feeding it for a couple of weeks.

How many times should you feed a cake?

The amount of times you feed you a fruitcake will depend on how strong you want the flavour to be. It’s possible to overfeed your cake, which will make it stodgy and wet. Our advice is to feed it once after it’s initially baked, then no more than four times during the maturation period. Try a teaspoonful of whichever alcohol you’ve chosen before you begin feeding your cake to test its strength.

If you’re planning a stunning sweet centrepiece for the big day, choose from our Christmas cake recipe collection.

What alcohol should you use?

Strong, flavourful spirits with a high ABV are ideal for feeding fruitcakes. You can use rum, brandy or whisky for spice, or if you like citrus flavours, try an orange liqueur. Cherry brandy and amaretto will also work well if you prefer these.

How to feed a Christmas cake

Skewering a Christmas cake
  1. Poke holes in your just-cooked cake with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp alcohol until it has all soaked in. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
  2. Peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in a clean sheet of baking parchment followed by a sheet of foil or a wax wrap.
  3. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight until you ice it, re-wrapping it each time.

Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.

Our best ever Christmas cake recipes

1. Make & mature Christmas cake


You can’t go wrong with our classic make & mature Christmas cake. Feed it regularly with rum, brandy, or whisky for a hit of spicy flavour. Watch our video on how to ice a cake to master marzipan and delectable decorations.

2. Golden amaretti Christmas cake


Blend tradition and trend with our eye-catching golden amaretti Christmas cake. It’s a super-simple all-in-one method, so you won’t need to spend hours in the kitchen perfecting your cake. Get creative with edible gold spray paint and plenty of crushed amaretti biscuits.

3. Buttered rum Christmas cake


Switch up the standard recipe with a cake that takes flavour inspiration from a favourite festive drink. Our buttered rum Christmas cake is packed with fruit, nuts and sweet maple syrup.

Mastered this method? Check out our other Christmas recipes and tips

Christmas cake decorating ideas
Christmas cupcake recipes
Our easiest ever Christmas cake recipes
Our best Christmas desserts

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What’s your favourite Christmas cake recipe? Leave a comment below…