Simmer-&-stir Christmas cake

Simmer-&-stir Christmas cake

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(169 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

Nutrition:

  • kcal-
  • fat-
  • saturates-
  • carbs-
  • sugars-
  • fibre-
  • protein-
  • salt-
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Ingredients

  • 175g butter, chopped
    Butter

    Butter

    butt-err

    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
    Orange

    Orange

    or-ange

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

  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
    Lemon

    Lemon

    le-mon

    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

    Brandy

    bran-dee

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

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

    Egg

    egg

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

  • 85g ground almond
    Almond

    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
    Cinnamon

    Cinnamon

    sin-ah-mun

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

  • ¼ tsp ground allspice

Method

  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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Imjwelch
25th Nov, 2017
5.05
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.
melpallot
13th Nov, 2017
5.05
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!)
Vakkachan
12th Nov, 2017
Hi Mary, Could you please tell me what can I replace brandy with? Thank you Mary.
lizleicester
12th Nov, 2017
5.05
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...
coasterstep
24th Sep, 2017
5.05
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!
comfortfood
13th Sep, 2017
5.05
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.
serendipity7000
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.
ant62
5th Nov, 2016
I made this cake for Christmas last year and as it was so good, I had to make it again this year. Unfortunately we are only just into November and it has already been eaten. Just about to make another. I hope it will last till Christmas this time. Beautiful cake and easy to make. Lovely without any additions, although I did add some walnuts but only because I like them.
acrfburton@btin...
27th Oct, 2016
Made this toady and it was so easy. Can't wait to try it at Christmas.
lornadennis
21st Jan, 2016
5.05
10 out of 10. This is the easiest and by far the best Christmas cake I have ever made. This will be my go to recipe for the future. I was worried the extra brandy poured over the cake at the end would be overpowering but it just made the cake moist right down to the last mouthful. My husband cut the first slice on Christmas eve and declared it was delicious. Some years the cake has hung around but this year it was eaten just after new year and there are only 2 of us! Will definitely use if I ever want to make a celebration cake.

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Andriaforever29
8th Dec, 2016
Is the cake moist enough?? I dont like the cakes to be dry
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
9th Dec, 2016
We can assure you it is moist! And the brandy added in the final step also helps to contribute to this.
lazymum
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
goodfoodteam
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
goodfoodteam
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. 
sanfeeney
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.
leocat55
19th Feb, 2015
Love this cake. Would like to increase to a 30cms round for the base of my Mum and Dads Diamond Wedding Anniversary cake, so need it to be as perfect as it has always been. Can some one help with all the measurements please?
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
2nd Mar, 2015
Hi leocat55, as we haven't tested this recipe using a 30cm tin we cannot guarantee perfect results and wouldn't like to just guess new measurements and timings in case you end up wasting expensive ingredients. For perfect results, why not make 2 cakes, decorate one and then keep the rest in the back to cut up so everyone gets a slice. 
theonlynamethat...
23rd Oct, 2014
I've adjusted the quantities to 1.5 times the original to fit a 23cm square tin, but can you tell me what the cooking time should be please?

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silvia115
11th Dec, 2015
5.05
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 :)