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
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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…

  • 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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20th Nov, 2018
Yes. The recipe.
Tom Marrinan
5th Dec, 2018
I agree, it takes much longer than the 2 hours at 130 C in a fan oven. We gave it 30 minutes extra and it is still not properly cooked. Comparing the recipe with other almost identical recipes we think 4 hours is far more realistic.
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!
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!


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!
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?


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