Simmer-&-stir Christmas cake

Simmer-&-stir Christmas cake

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(173 ratings)

Prep: 1 hr - 1 hr, 15 mins Cook: 1 hr - 2 hrs, 30 mins (cooking time 2 hrs 30 if gas oven)

More effort

Makes a 20cm round cake
An easy-to-make alternative to traditional Christmas cakes which requires no beating

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable


  • kcal-
  • fat-
  • saturates-
  • carbs-
  • sugars-
  • fibre-
  • protein-
  • salt-
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  • 175g butter, chopped



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

  • 200g dark muscovado sugar
  • 750g luxury mixed dried fruit (one that includes mixed peel and glacé cherries)
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange



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

  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon



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

  • 100ml/3½ fl oz cherry brandy or brandy plus 4tbsp more



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

  • 85g macadamia nut
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten



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

  • 85g ground almond


    arr-mund or al-mund

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

  • 200g plain flour
  • 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…

  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon



    A fragrant spice which comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree. When dried, it curls into…

  • ¼ tsp ground allspice


  1. Put the butter, sugar, fruit, zests, juice and 100ml/3½fl oz brandy in a large pan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the butter has melted. Reduce the heat and bubble for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2/ fan 130C and line a 20cm round cake tin. Toast the nuts in a dry frying pan, tossing them until evenly browned, or in the oven for 8-10 minutes - keep an eye on them as they burn easily. When they are cool, chop roughly. Stir the eggs, nuts and ground almonds into the fruit mixture and mix well. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the pan. Stir in gently, until there are no traces of flour left.

  4. Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth it down evenly - you will find this is easiest with the back of a metal spoon which has been dipped into boiling water.

  5. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn down the heat to 140C/gas 1/ fan120C and cook for a further 1-1¼ hours (about a further 1¾ hours if you have a gas oven) until the cake is dark golden in appearance and firm to the touch. Cover the top of the cake with foil if it starts to darken too much. To check the cake is done, insert a fine skewer into the centre - if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

  6. Make holes all over the warm cake with a fine skewer and spoon the extra 4tbsp brandy over the holes until it has all soaked in. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. When it's cold, remove it from the tin, peel off the lining paper, then wrap first in baking parchment and then in foil. The cake will keep in a cupboard for up to three months or you can freeze it for six months.

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Comments, questions and tips

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5th Jan, 2018
Delicious! Super easy- the first Christmas cake I have ever made and I can't imagine why I would ever look for a different recipie. The cake was moist, rich and very tasty. I followed it to the letter and then marzipanned/ iced for serving up. Yum!
1st Jan, 2018
Without a doubt the best Christmas cake I have ever tasted. I made it two weeks before Christmas and fed it with brandy a few times inbetween. I left out the macadamia nuts because I don't like nuts in fruit cake. Just perfect and so easy to make. Will definitely be making every year from now on!
28th Dec, 2017
Much drier than most cakes. Condemned to the freezer in chunks to be eaten with custard.
25th Nov, 2017
super easy! I may possibly have had a heavy hand with the cherry brandy but it isn't too overpowering a flavour. Hugely popular recipe with friends and family.
13th Nov, 2017
Best Christmas Cake recipe ever! I have been making this for a few years now, but with a slight variation of using dried light fruit instead of more conventional (payaya, guava, pineapple, golden raisins and cherries, ginger - basically any light coloured fruit that I can get my hands on) and using white rum (Bacardi) instead of brandy. This year I'm trying it with honey brandy. Always make it during October half term, and then "feed" it weekly until time to decorate. A huge hit with my husband (who claims to have never liked Christmas Cake before) as well as with the children (limited intake!)
12th Nov, 2017
Hi Mary, Could you please tell me what can I replace brandy with? Thank you Mary.
12th Nov, 2017
Swapped the macadamia nuts for hazelnuts and almonds because I couldn't find t'others. It looks and smells lovely but I'll have to wait for the real test...
24th Sep, 2017
Me too - told my sister about it some years ago and she makes it all year round for family and friends. She bakes it in two loaf tins, but my husband and I love it too much for that and look forward to our yearly full size one. Also make one for eldest daughter whol likes it uniced and while at work, dreams about coming home to a big slice with a cuppa! Great recipe!
13th Sep, 2017
I love, love, love this recipe. Having never made a Christmas cake before, I tried it 5 years ago and have used it every year since! If you can follow a recipe, you can cook so they say - follow this recipe and you will not go wrong. Really easy to make and the results are well received by all who eat it! The smell as you unwrap it each time to feed it will fill you with that Christmas feeling every time.
23rd Dec, 2016
Ooh! The sultanas swell up and look like little grapes in the warm mixture :-). I made this on the 23rd December (we're not actually having our Christmas until 29th for family reasons) - so a week in advance basically. We had just moved house and everything was last minute. I actually have a good recipe for a week's notice Christmas cake but it needs treacle and I didn't have any treacle in and ran out of time to go shopping. So I tried this one. We usually like a 6" cake but I made the full amount of mixture and put the rest in a 4" tin to make an extra little one. I left out the nuts and substituted the dark soft brown sugar for half light soft brown sugar and half demerera sugar as that's all I had in, plus two oranges instead of an orange and a lemon (my other recipe uses 2 oranges as well). I love that it is so easy to make and smells so gorgeous while cooking in the pan. I think this will also be my go to recipe from now on.


Louise Rouse's picture
Louise Rouse
21st Dec, 2017
How soon after making can this cake be eaten?
goodfoodteam's picture
23rd Dec, 2017
Thanks for your question. You can eat this straightaway.
8th Dec, 2016
Is the cake moist enough?? I dont like the cakes to be dry
28th Dec, 2017
Quite dry sadly.
goodfoodteam's picture
9th Dec, 2016
We can assure you it is moist! And the brandy added in the final step also helps to contribute to this.
4th Dec, 2016
Can I make this recipe into smaller cakes or muffins to give as gifts? Would I just reduce the cooking time? Or would it be ok to just slice/cut to size once baked?
goodfoodteam's picture
8th Dec, 2016
We'd suggest cooking smaller versions rather than cutting the cake as they will stay fresher for longer. Yes, the cooking time will need to be adjusted and this is something you'll need to experiment with as we have not tested different sizes in our Test Kitchen. Depending on the size, you'll need to keep an eye on the cakes from quite early on to avoid overcooking.
becmsmith (not verified)
30th Nov, 2015
I'd really like to try this. Is there any substitute for macadamia nuts - my son can't eat. Or can I just leave out altogether? Thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
14th Dec, 2015
If your son can't eat any nuts rather than just macadamia nuts, leave them out, or replace the weight with a little more fruit. If he can, substitute them for blanched almonds, hazelnuts or pecans. Please be aware if he is allergic that there are also ground almonds in this recipe, which you can replace with plain flour. 
8th Dec, 2015
Just leave them out. I make this every year and even made it as my wedding cake. My son is allergic to all nuts so I just omit them and there's no need to replace them with anything.


11th Dec, 2015
This fruit cake is delicious. I've been making boiled fruit cake for years. It was an old recipe and nice...I saw this one and wanted to change. After reading the comment below I left out the maple syrup altogether even though I love maple syrup, but don't like overly sweet cakes. It's moist and full of fruit and almost like a christmas pudding. It will be my favourite from now on. I make Christmas cakes as gifts for neighbours in place of a card. I collect large tuna tins during the year and wash them and put them away then at Christmas I make a fruit cake and divide it amongst 4 tins and bake them. I then wrap them in cellophane to give away. This year I used this recipe to do that. Hope everyone has a nice Christmas! Thanks for the lovely recipe :)