Feeding a Christmas cake with alcohol

Make & mature Christmas cake

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(97 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins Cook: 2 hrs, 10 mins Plus cooling


Cuts into 12-15 slices

Bake this festive fruit cake in advance of Christmas and feed it regularly with rum, brandy or whisky to build the flavour and keep it moist

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per slice (12)

  • kcal678
  • fat29g
  • saturates12g
  • carbs88g
  • sugars79g
  • fibre3g
  • protein9g
  • salt0.6g
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  • 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
  • zest and juice 1 orange



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

  • zest and juice 1 lemon



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

  • 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding



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

  • 250g pack butter, softened



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

  • 200g light soft brown sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 100g ground almond
  • 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…

  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 100g flaked almond
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Put 1kg mixed dried fruit, the zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon, 150ml brandy or other alcohol, 250g softened butter and 200g light, soft brown sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat.

  2. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.

  3. Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.

  4. Add 175g plain flour, 100g ground almonds, ½ tsp baking powder, 2 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground cloves, 100g flaked almonds, 4 large eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour.

  5. Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.

  6. Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.

  7. To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it.

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

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Comments, questions and tips

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17th Nov, 2018
This recipe has become our Chritsmas tradition!
14th Nov, 2018
I made this cake on Monday 12th November and it's GORGEOUS!!! I used Brandy soaked fruit from Aldi, and then added whisky after it was cooked. It's gorgeous and I'm not ruining it with marzipan or icing. And it's not going to make it to chrimbo - we've already scoffed half of it. (Oh, and I used coconut oil instead of butter, simply because I didn't have enough butter. It's GORGEOUS!)
Latha Rao's picture
Latha Rao
11th Nov, 2018
I made this cake today, it turned out perfect. This is my second Christmas cake ever that I had baked, but this recipe is definitely better than the previous one. I would recommend this recipe and also make the cake again
Lauren Wiltshire's picture
Lauren Wiltshire
6th Nov, 2018
Absolutely brilliant recipe! second year I've made this - last year into little Kilner jars as gifts, this year as a big cake for the family dinner. Easy recipe and great taste. Family love this, recommended to all!
6th Nov, 2018
I am about to make this cake, with complete confidence as I've made it quite a few times before. It is very easy to make. Yes, it takes quite a long time to cook, but it is a big Christmas cake, so that's to be expected. Benefit - the house smells wonderful.
6th Nov, 2018
Used recipe for first time today. We always make 2 cakes one with M&S recipe and then an experimental one. By comparison this mixture very sloppy and needed 30 minutes longer. Can't comment on taste/texture yet.
3rd Nov, 2018
2 hours my foot! Get ready for a 4 hour bake. Lovely recipe. Used a few times and adapted to suite my larder! Recommended
16th Nov, 2018
If this takes 4 hours to bake then there is something amiss.
3rd Nov, 2018
I have just made this cake for the second year and still just as lovely as the year before smells amazing really easy and fun I would definitely recommend this cake but maybe cook the cake a little longer than specified just to be sure make sure this is the Christmas cake you make this year it’s a show stopper a Christmas must have !!!!
6th Jan, 2018
Agree with comment below! Chose this recipe as there was a higher proportion of fruit to flour and sugar than in most other recipes. Made the cake only a few days before Christmas, and substituted orange and lemon juice for the alcohol (to share the cake with Muslim family). It turned out perfect for eating on Christmas day, and the following 2 weeks. This is definitely my recipe for future Christmases!


11th Nov, 2018
Hi I have just made this cake for the first time and added about 20 mins etc cook time. I have just taken the cake out of the tin and it still feels a little bit warm (5 hours left in tin) and the bottom seems a little wet still, do u think it may be under cooked? Or is this normal? Thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
14th Nov, 2018
Thanks for your question. We would guess that if you cooked the cake for 20 mins longer it will be fine.
Jan's picture
10th Nov, 2018
I make this cake every year - it's wonderful! But this year I want to make two smaller cakes - if I split this recipe into two, how long should I cook them for?
Jan's picture
11th Nov, 2018
Update: I had to make the cakes yesterday so just decided to wing it! I put them in 16cm deep tins - perfect size for this recipe split into two - and baked for 1hr then tested. They needed a little more time, so put them back in for 20ms and that seemed to be perfect! Fingers crossed! Skewers came out dry, so should be ok!
goodfoodteam's picture
14th Nov, 2018
Great! Sounds like it worked out well.
Ashleigh Clayton's picture
Ashleigh Clayton
27th Oct, 2018
I've never made a Christmas cake before and intend to use this recipe as all tge comments are so positive! Am wondering if this cake is okay to cook about a month in advance to Christmas?:-) thanks in advance!
goodfoodteam's picture
2nd Nov, 2018
Thanks for your question. Yes, this cake is designed to be made ahead. You can even make it now if you like.
Tom Langston's picture
Tom Langston
24th Oct, 2018
No one answered the question about what the newspaper is for. Do you cook it with the paper on? When do you take it off?
goodfoodteam's picture
2nd Nov, 2018
Thanks for your question. Yes, you cook it with the newspaper on to help prevent the sides from becoming overly cooked before the rest of the cake is done. You take it off when the cake comes out of the oven.
Jaime Hammack's picture
Jaime Hammack
5th Dec, 2017
Hi! I'm looking to bake this cake in the next couple days (in the US), but I have a few questions about the recipe volume and baking vessels: What qualifies as a deep cake pan--will a standard 8x2" round pan be too shallow for this recipe? Would a large bundt pan or a 9x5 loaf tin work as alternatives, or would I need to adjust the ingredient quantities in the recipe? I can handle the calculations, but I'm not sure what the volume of the "deep 20cm cake tin" is. Any help would be sincerely appreciated. Cheers!


3rd Dec, 2016
I am going to make this today with fruit that has been soaking since January...I start the process in January by putting mixed fruit, fresh lemon, orange & lime ride and juice, I then pour in a mix of spirits, normally what's left over from new year, including: brandy, rum, peach schnapps, Bacardi, vodka, whiskey, Tia Maria, drambui etc. The only spirit I don't put in is gin, I've tried it before and it leaves a funny taste! Then through the year, I stir it, adding more fruit and the dregs left over from parties. I use this mix for my cake, my Christmas pudding and mincemeat. I made a batch of Christmas puddings 3 years as an experiment to see how long they would last. Last years was the 2 year one and it was absolutely out of this world, so I am so looking forward to year 3! I will be making a spare just in case.
18th Oct, 2016
I have the newspaper/brown paper extending 3 or 4 cms above the top of the tin then rest a double piece of brown paper, with a 3 cm hole cut in the centre, on top of the newspaper/brown paper. This prevents the top from browning too quickly but the air can still escape through the centre hole.
27th Dec, 2015
I made this cake in Seattle for my English sweetheart. He suggested a few modifications based on his mom's technique. I soaked the fruit and peel overnight in 100ml of brandy. I added a couple of spoonfuls of dark treacle and a splash of almond extract. While this horrified the family in England, I did not ice it. I glazed the cake with apricot jam and covered it in marzipan, but he doesn't like the sugar in the traditional icing. I decorated the cake with holly designs made of sprinkled green sugar, placed a ring of blanched almonds around the edge, and lightly dusted it all with white icing sugar. Once fed with brandy, my cake was declared the genuine article. My American family loved it, too! Much nicer than the overly sweet dense fruit cakes we grew up on...