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


  • 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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29th Dec, 2015
Is a 5* recipe (but rating doesn't seem to work today) .. This is an update to my 25th November comment. It's now post-Christmas and I ended up making two of these cakes - one for us with Brandy and as-per the recipe, and another alcohol-free which was for my parents for which I used black tea with added golden syrup as the cooking liquid / feed (didn't add macadamias for this one but used extra fruit to the same quantity as the nuts). These were the first Christmas cakes I've ever made (and decorated .. very proud!) and I'll never use another recipe as they're that good. In fact, my father who is notoriously hard to please, has today told me that the cake I made my parents is the best cake he's ever tasted!! (I'm still basking in the glow of THAT compliment!) Thanks BBC Good Food - yet another superb recipe.
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. 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 :)
25th Nov, 2015
I made this today after simmering the fruit yesterday and leaving for 24 hours - to be honest, I would've been happy to get a spoon and dig in to the cooked fruit mixture as it cooled, it really did smell THAT good! .. like Christmas Pudding. Anyway, today I got the other ingredients together with the fruit and although it took 30 mins longer than stated (I prepared the tin old-style, ie with a brown paper surround on the outside of the tin and it must have insulated the cake against the long cooking time a little too well!) .. it looks absolutely perfect. I've fed it as advised and it's now cooled and wrapped. Might feed it again in a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed it tastes as good as it looks!
19th Nov, 2015
This cake recipe is the reason why I am now the nominated Christmas cake baker in our family :/- if you don't want that responsibility then for heavens sake do not make this cake lol. It is very, very good and thankfully...super easy. I feed it a few tablespoons of brandy every two weeks whilst it is maturing (usually make it mid Nov). Best fruit cake recipe ever. Thank you for posting it.
16th Nov, 2015
I've been using this Christmas cake recipe for a number of years now and it is so easy to make and absolutely delicious. I've gone from making one just for myself to several for various family members :)
2nd Aug, 2015
Have made this cake for Christmas for the last few years and scaled it down to make a smaller one last year. Although I don't eat fruit cake everyone tells me it's a good, moist cake. Now using the recipe to make a larger celebration cake for my parents 80th birthday. I always soak the fruit overnight in the brandy and make the next day and feed as often as I remember before icing. So easy to do. This is the site I have been using to re-scale the recipe and seems to work.
8th Jun, 2015
Simmer and stir xmas cake amazing gorgeous cake so easy to make all in one step so moist the best xmas cake I've ever made and tasted everyone loves the cake will use this recipe every xmas I would recommend this xmas cake to all I could eat the whole cake myself even a beginner could make this cake
23rd Dec, 2014
I made this back in October and I've been 'feeding' it with alcohol every fortnight until now...Only two days until it can be eaten!!
18th Dec, 2014
Made this cake for the first time and it was easy and tasty. I did however change the recipe slightly. I used Jack Daniels Honey as my husband likes it. I soaked the fruit in the JD Honey the night before. The 100ml of alcohol consisted of JD Honey, L`Esprit D`Orange Liqueur and Cactus Jack`s Schnapps Citrus Liqueur to compliment the orange and lemon zest. I didn`t have any macadamia nuts so I used crushed walnut halves. The cake came out tasting delicious and very moist, a bit like a pudding / cake. Will diffinately make this cake again as I don`t think it will last until christmas.
15th Dec, 2014
Made this last year and had a bit of a panic as I wanted to do it again this year and couldnt remember which site the recipe was on. So relieved to have found it, it's blimmin' marvelous, tastes amazing and is soooooo easy to make.


goodfoodteam's picture
7th Nov, 2014
Hi there thanks for your question, yes a Swiss roll tin should work fine for this recipe.
21st Oct, 2014
I only have a 22cm cake tin will that be okay or should I adjust the recipe?
18th Dec, 2013
Wonder why my 5 stars arent showing!
18th Dec, 2013
Can I leave the simmered mixture overnight before mixing in the flour and bake it the next morning? Will it affect the texture or taste of the cake? Thanks.....
goodfoodteam's picture
24th Dec, 2013
Yes you can leave the simmered mixture overnight, the flavour will improve!
3rd Dec, 2013
What sized tin should I use???
goodfoodteam's picture
18th Dec, 2013
Hi there, For this recipe we used a 20cm round cake tin. Best wishes. 
10th Nov, 2013
This recipe sounds fantastic - what quantities should I use for a 24 cm square cake? Many thanks
7th Nov, 2013
hi im making this cake rite now and it smells fantastic! please could you tell me the ingredients for a 12" square and how long i need to cook it! many thanks
29th Sep, 2013
Doh! I misread the oven temperature and baked my cake at 150 Celsius in a fan oven for the first 45 mins, and now I wonder if it hasn't risen a result. Can anyone tell me what height I should expect the cake to be, baked as indicated in a 20cm tin? Thanks!


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