Feeding a Christmas cake with alcohol

Make & mature Christmas cake

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(137 ratings)

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

Easy

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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Ingredients

  • 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
  • zest and juice 1 orange
    Orange

    Orange

    or-ange

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

  • zest and juice 1 lemon
    Lemon

    Lemon

    le-mon

    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

    Brandy

    bran-dee

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

  • 250g pack butter, softened
    Butter

    Butter

    butt-err

    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

Method

  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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Sunnie Cord
23rd Mar, 2019
5.05
Easy recipe and tastes wonderful. I baked 7 last Christmas, for friends, and I've made another today for a friend's child's christening. However, I've had to give them all about 3 hours in my preheated fan oven at 145c. I'll always use this recipe but will rely on a thermometer to ensure the cake is ready rather than relying on time alone.
missthis
14th Feb, 2019
It’s Valentine’s Day and I just had the next to last sliver of this cake. Absolutely superb. One thing I did do is used whisky and after I’d cooked the fruit in it and the butter etc, I left it overnight to soak before baking the cake. And I topped up fortnightly or so.
Clarey44
10th Jan, 2019
We had a bake off at work (we made 6 different Christmas cakes which we blind tested). This cake came last but made the biggest laugh. When it came to testing this cake, the judges looked like they were at a wine tasting event - using a spit bin! My colleague says she followed the recipe to the letter but it still came out like undercooked gravel! This recipe is one to avoid.
Chelle Leong's picture
Chelle Leong
26th Dec, 2018
5.05
Too much raisins but everything else is great
TerrieG
15th Dec, 2018
5.05
This is the best Christmas cake recipe I have ever made, it is so moist and flavoursome, will definitely do this again next year
crazyforginger
30th Nov, 2018
5.05
this recipe is fantastic. So much easier than the tradicional ones . I will definelly adopt for the next Christmas
Fiona Frazer's picture
Fiona Frazer
29th Nov, 2018
Is this best to be stored in fridge or room temp after baked?
vieja_34
2nd Dec, 2018
Just wrapped in clingfilm or foil in a tin in a coolish place, not the fridge :)
Janette Clark's picture
Janette Clark
25th Nov, 2018
5.05
First time making a Christmas cake and found this recipe really straightforward. Followed almost to the letter, but I did 'cook' the fruit mixture the day before and let it sit overnight, which seemed to make it a thicker consistency so it wasnt any way near being sloppy as some others have reported. I used a 20cm square cake tin and it took exactly 2 hours to bake. Very pleased with the result, it looks and smells great. Will certainly use this recipe in the future.
Liz Hay's picture
Liz Hay
25th Nov, 2018
5.05
First time baking a Christmas cake! I made it in a 23cm tin so it took a bit less time to bake. Smells deliciously boozy. I look forward to slicing into this cake in a few weeks. Used an instant thermometer to check that it was done.

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rupertgilbert
10th Dec, 2018
Im in the process of making this cake but I do not see the reason for putting paper on the outside of the tin and I am a little worried it will set fire. The fire brigade are miles away lol
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
11th Dec, 2018
3.05
Thanks for your question. This helps to protect the outside of the cake to stop it from becoming overcooked during the long cooking time. Don't worry it won't set fire as long as it's not near a naked flame.
Savya Ramesh's picture
Savya Ramesh
4th Dec, 2018
Could you please include the height/depth of the cake tin used as the cake tins in USA are around 2” high but based on the quantities the cake tin you have used should be higher? If that is the case, do I reduce the baking time?
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
6th Dec, 2018
3.05
A deep cake tin tends to be about 3" high. If you cannot get hold of one, you'll need to use a larger tin and reduce the cooking time. We cannot give exact timings as we have not tested this in an alternative tin but would suggest cooking until it starts to look golden on the top and is firm to the touch. If necessary, return to the oven.
Fenodyree
29th Nov, 2018
5.05
I make this cake every year and I love it. This year, I'm wondering if I might substitute all or half of the butter with hazelnut oil. I prefer to avoid dairy for ethical reasons. Would it work, though? I don't want to jeopardise the whole family's Christmas cake! Thanks!
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
3rd Dec, 2018
3.05
Thanks for your question. We're glad you've enjoyed this cake so much. Unfortunately, we haven't tested this so can't give advice on quantities for substitutions. However, we do have a couple of dairy-free Christmas cakes you could make as an alternative: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/vegan-christmas-cake https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2709/gingered-rich-fruit-cake
Sara Sanders
27th Nov, 2018
Hi, this is my first time making Christmas cake. I know I'm a bit late, so I'm going to feed this every week. How should I reheat this on Christmas day? I'm making it to take to my mother in laws as a surprise.
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
27th Nov, 2018
3.05
Thanks for your question. You don't need to reheat the cake, just serve it at room temperature.
Molineux2001
21st Nov, 2018
Completely new to baking a Christmas cake and just wondering if I’ve left it too late to make? Hoping to make it on stir-up Sunday which leaves a month for it to mature is this enough time?
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
22nd Nov, 2018
3.05
No problem! This will still give you enough time to feed the cake once more before Christmas. Enjoy.

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Laura Heptner's picture
Laura Heptner
19th Nov, 2018
5.05
I made this recipe last night, and wrote down the best conversion I could for us Americans (link to converted recipe below). Also, I substituted the ground almond with extra flour. I haven't iced or decorated it yet, since I'll still be feeding it over the next 5 weeks until Christmas, but it smells so good! I used apple brandy to cook with, and will be feeding it spiced rum.
shady95
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.
g00df00d
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.
Inlovewithashro...
27th Dec, 2015
5.05
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...
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