Feeding a Christmas cake with alcohol

Make & mature Christmas cake

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(180 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


  • 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…

  • 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 a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 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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28th Mar, 2020
This recipe is perfect. I used it to make the fruit layer of my wedding cake. My husband is a bit of a fruit cake connoisseur and he said it was gorgeous. I fed it for 3 months and was lovely and moist.
28th Jan, 2020
The best Christmas Cake I have ever made. I usually use Delias recipe - this turned out MUCH tastier. I used spiced rum for alcohol in one and brandy in another one - the rum one was much nicer, the brandy one was a little soggy. This might be because I put all of the brandy cake version into one big round tin, but the rum one went into a loaf tin and theleftover into a pork pie tin. I might be too heavy handed with the booze though! lol I usually cut into big chunks and share - but I have actually eaten most of the rum one myself over the last month! The few people that did get a look in also said it was the best one yet. Keeps beautifully. It didn't even make it to the marzipan and icing stage, it didn't need it, it was perfect the way it was! Definitely going to be doing this one again next year.
Shelley O'Brien's picture
Shelley O'Brien
22nd Dec, 2019
Moreish! My first home made Christmas cake, a lovely recipe. I actually split the mixture across 2x loaf tins so that I could give one (half) to my mum, unfortunately my loaf didnt make it to Christmas so I made another batch today using Aldi's brandy soaked fruit. Obviously not quite as nice as my first spiced rum soaked one, but still so good! Much lighter in colour than the traditional fruit cake that I'm used to.
5th Dec, 2019
I first tried this recipe a few years ago. Since then, I have made it every December and has made me quite the fan of rich fruit cake when before I hardly touched it.
Lina Karpaviciute's picture
Lina Karpaviciute
30th Nov, 2019
Hi, thanks for the recipe. I would like to ask, if it is ok to add less sugar (and how much can I reduce the amount of sugar). I am afraid that this cake might be very sweet as my family does not like very sweet cakes. Thank you!
Rachel Palmer's picture
Rachel Palmer
17th Nov, 2019
This is my 2nd cake using the same method and ingredients, love it, smells devine, is eaten within days of given the go ahead (to my kids) there is nothing I would do differently, cooked in an electric oven, for the full two hours. Love it!! Thank you ♥️♥️♥️
Maria Butler's picture
Maria Butler
8th Nov, 2019
This sounds much easier than my usual recipe, but my husband hates almonds or any nuts. Any suggestion to replace the ground almonds, please?
28th Nov, 2019
Yes, I've sometimes used polenta in cakes when I have not had ground almonds to hand. Works pretty well!
8th Nov, 2019
Same here! And he runs a mile from marzipan. Wonder if the ground almonds can just be replaced with flour...
Less's picture
3rd Nov, 2019
Great recipe! I followed it step for step and it cooked in 2 hours! Didn’t have newspaper or brown parchment paper, but had lots of brown paper in the Amazon box which contained my air tight cake box that I ordered a few days a go to store this cake. This worked great and the edges & bottom didn’t brown/ burn. Will be feeding it with brandy until it’s time to decorate :)


26th Dec, 2019
I made this cake for the first time on the first weekend of November. I followed the directions exactly. Unfortunately there are no instructions about storing the cake while feeding it alcohol. I looked around on the internet for advice. Finally, I wrapped it in plastic wrap as the recipe suggests, and stored it in the fridge. I fed it 2T every week of brandy, covered it with marzipan the week before Xmas and fondant on Xmas eve. It was fun to do but it would be great to update the recipe with instuctions on the whole process. The end result has great flavor but the texture is dry and crumbly. Why did mine turn out like that? Was it the fridge? Did I make it too early?
lulu_grimes's picture
30th Dec, 2019
Hello, The cake shouldn't have been dry if you were feeding it. I also made this recipe in November, I stored mine in an airtight container (out of the fridge) and it has cut well, the cake is quite solid. There are some other recent comments about the cake being crumble, as this is an old recipe we will test it again in January to check it and post a comment about our results. I hope yours still tasted good.
1st Jan, 2020
Sorry for worrying you. My cake tasted great! As it turned out, only one part of the cake was slightly dry. I think I didn't sprinkle the brandy evenly across the top of the cake when i fed it. Most was fed well, however, and is absolutely delicious! It's gone today; the last slice was enjoyed. Thanks for a great recipe!
22nd Dec, 2019
I've made this cake for three or four years now. Made 4 cakes this year. One has just been sampled and apparently it is impossible to cut. I made it over two months ago. Several different knives were tried but it just crumbles and wouldn't slice. I think the ones I made in the past were similarly crumbly. Would leaving out the chopped nuts help?
lulu_grimes's picture
23rd Dec, 2019
Hello, I'm sorry to hear that. It might possibly be less crumbly without the nuts, I'll get it tested in the New Year to check. I've made one myself so I'll check mine later.
Annetta 55
9th Dec, 2019
I just made this cake but found when I cut it it crumbles any tips on what I can do or done wrong
lulu_grimes's picture
10th Dec, 2019
Hello, Thank you for your question. May I ask what kind of knife you are using? Sometimes the wrong knife blade can cause the cake to crumble. Also, how long have you matured the cake for and how cool is it when you cut it? The cooler the cake the easier it should be to cut neatly, also if the cake has rested it should help the crumb firm up. The final possibility is that the eggs you used were on the small side, eggs can vary by 10g each within the size range. I hope this helps.
8th Dec, 2019
I've used the last of the sherry making the cake. Can I feed it with blackberry or sloe gin?
lulu_grimes's picture
10th Dec, 2019
Hi, I often feed my cake with sloe gin, so yes you can. I hope this helps.
The Brady Bunch
24th Nov, 2019
If I made this as 2x 10cm cakes would I halve the cooking time?


Caroline Settle's picture
Caroline Settle
8th Dec, 2019
I used this recipe to make mini Christmas cakes to gift to family and friends over the festive period. I used the recipe as is, except I used pre-soaked brandy fruit which had been on the go for a couple of months. Using a 5cm diameter muffin tin lined with baking paper and no additional wrapping I found 50-60mins is perfect cooking time. No burning and lovely moist looking cake much better recipe to downsize than others I’ve used in the past. Feeding will only be 1 week due to the size of them.
Laura Heptner's picture
Laura Heptner
19th Nov, 2018
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.
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...
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