Feeding a Christmas cake with alcohol

Make & mature Christmas cake

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(78 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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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!
15th Dec, 2017
I have been GF for 6 years and have had 6 disappointing Christmas cake experiences UNTIL now. This was sublimely simple (I need that) and looks, walks, talks and smells like the real McCoy. I also do not understand comments on heaviness and under-baked, this is moist, fruit laden and moreish
13th Dec, 2017
This is the third year of making this sensational cake. I add extra cherries, nuts and other dried fruit, plenty of alcohol and we keep it (iced) until as late as Easter!!!!!!!!!! Always too full at Christmas time.
29th Nov, 2017
I have just made this the second time and really dont see how the recipe could turn out raw. I think sometimes people dont use the right size tin or set the oven incorrectly including the need to preheat. Baking is quite precise. Anyway this year i slighlty blitzed the fruit mix as I had a recipe that required this and it was so very moist as a result, an Ainsley Harriot .
11th Nov, 2017
Made this cake for the third consecutive year. Great recipe!
15th Oct, 2017
I always make 25% extra by scaling up the recipe and then split into two smaller cake tins. Cooks in 1.5-1.75 hours and always comes out perfect
3rd Jul, 2017
Posting out of season I know - but found this recipe in my web favourites so posting before I forget to.....baked a cake for the first time in my life last Christmas and followed this recipe using Remy Martin. Gorgeous cake even if I say so myself. Decorated with bought marzipan and icing - maybe next year!
8th Jan, 2017
Followed the recipe exactly, turned out perfectly. Very pleased, especially as it was my first ever Christmas cake. Very easy.
8th Jan, 2017
First Christmas cake. Foolowed recipes exactly. Perfect. (Used spiced rum).
7th Jan, 2017
I have tried quite a few different recipes and this year I chose this recipe. My cake was delicious and cooked. I did use an oven thermometer to check on the temperature and probably gave it 30 mins longer as it still looked a bit pale. I didnt feed any more brandy after it was cooked at all.. It seemed very moist . I marzipanned and iced the cake and we are loving it.


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!
goodfoodteam's picture
8th Dec, 2017
Thanks for your questions. A 20cm round tin is an 8" one and the depth needs to be at least 3" to constitute a deep one. We haven't tested the cake in alternative tins so unfortunately can't give specific advice on that.
29th Nov, 2017
Hi, I made this cake last year at the beginning November and fed it until a week before Christmas and it turned out beautifully. I am slightly less on the ball this year and wondering if I have now left it too late? If I make it now I am only going to be able to feed it maybe twice before I need to marzipan and ice it, is this enough? Thanks!
goodfoodteam's picture
10th Dec, 2017
Thanks, don't worry if you don't have time. Just make sure you leave it for a week before icing.
23rd Nov, 2017
Hi. I am allergic to almonds what could I replace to make this cake. Thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
24th Nov, 2017
Thanks for your question. You can replace the ground almonds with the an extra 100g plain flour and leave out the flaked almonds altogether.
30th Oct, 2017
I've had mine in for 2 hours and 20 mins and it's still raw I was just wondering if anyone else has had this problem and how to fix it thank you Chloe
goodfoodteam's picture
8th Nov, 2017
Sorry we weren't able to get back to you while your cake was still in the oven. We're wondering if the oven wasn't fully up to temperature when the cake went in. It's fine to leave it in for longer. Bear in mind that if inserting a skewer into a fruit cake, sometimes the skewer will be sticky as it pierces the fruit. It doesn't necessarily indicate it is uncooked. A good indication of when a fruit cake is cooked is feeling firm to the touch in the centre of the cake.
14th Oct, 2017
Could I double up the quantities to make one large cake? And how long should I bake it?
goodfoodteam's picture
20th Oct, 2017
Thanks for your question. You can double up the recipe. We can't give you an exact size or time as we have not tested this. You'll need to experiment. However as fruit cakes are pretty stable, you don't need to worry too much about opening the oven door later in the cooking time to give you an idea of how much longer you need to cook it.


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...