Feeding a Christmas cake with alcohol

Make & mature Christmas cake

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(178 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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Less's picture
24th Dec, 2019
I have just cut the cake! Took some round to my grandparents - they loved it, and my nan is usually quite fussy so very pleased with that :) It is very moist and the Christmas flavours really come through, I managed to get three feeds with brandy before decorating! I spread some apricot jam on the outside of the cake, and covered with shop bought pre-made marizpan and white fondant This was my first ever home-made Christmas cake - will definitely make this a tradition :)
Jennifer Thompson's picture
Jennifer Thompson
2nd Nov, 2019
Excellent. Just made this in two hours as a trial run for making it for Xmas. Added a tablespoon of treacle. Lovely moist cake. Perfect !!!
Pee's picture
23rd Oct, 2019
First one out of four baked today. As usual, I stuck to the recipe to the letter (it’s lovely as it is) and used my old faithful Kraken dark spiced rum! I use a 23cm tin and it’s always done in 2 hours. I have a new oven this year, which tends to brown cakes quickly despite the temperature being spot on, so I covered the top in foil after the first hour or so.
22nd Oct, 2019
I’ve just taken this out of the oven and it looks fabulous. I was concerned about how long it would take after reading the comments, but it’s perfect after the recommended 2 hours. I did follow the recipe to the letter, I doubled up on parchment and double wrapped in newspaper as suggested, it did not catch light! It was super easy to make and smells great, I hope it tastes good as the cost of ingredients was an investment! All I need to do now is feed it until Christmas week, but so far so good.
Kathryn Brookes's picture
Kathryn Brookes
20th Oct, 2019
Super easy make, it looks and smells amazing. I did slllliiiiightly up the cinnamon, but that's personal preference. I will say that it took just over 3 hours to cook in my oven though, and I upped the temperature to 150°c for the last 45 minutes and removed the baking parchment from the outside of the tin too. Not an issue at all, but just bear in mind that not ovens are exactly the same.
Roz Spencer's picture
Roz Spencer
14th Oct, 2019
Even using this recipe for years now, so easy to follow and make. Always super tasty! This year I’ve added in some cranberries instead of cherries (purely because the supermarket didn’t have any!) I made 3 today, however small tins so actually turned out to be 4, which has taken longer in the oven but only to be expected. Can’t wait for Christmas!!
DrHeather's picture
13th Oct, 2019
Used this recipe for the last 3 years, super easy and worked well so far! Usually I add a tub of glacé cherries too. This year I let the fruit soak in V.S.O.P. Brandy for a few hours beforehand and then used the recipe as written. Usually store mine in clingfilm in the fridge and ‘feed’ every 2 weeks. Worth investing in a decent brandy, sherry etc
Tina Robinson's picture
Tina Robinson
4th Oct, 2019
I made this cake on Wednesday and added some chopped mixed nuts. I may have added a little extra brandy too! It had two hours in the oven and came out perfectly cooked. It smelt and looked delicious - the newspaper around the outside is worth it. We can’t wait to try it at Christmas. Follow the recipe and you can’t go wrong.
Jay E's picture
Jay E
28th Sep, 2019
Mine has been in the oven over 3 hours and is still rather soft in the centre, this is using a shallower cake tin than recommended. Be careful with the timings.
Sunnie Cord
23rd Mar, 2019
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.


25th Nov, 2019
Hello, Scaling cakes up and down is slightly complicated when it comes to cooking times. Though your cakes will be smaller across the base they may still be quite high so will still take a reasonable time to cook through right to the centre. You can check them after an hour (push a skewer into the centre and make sure it come out with no wet cake mixture on it) and then keep checking at 15 minutes until they are cooked. Don't worry about the holes you make, especially if you are planning on feeding the cakes. Do make sure you line and wrap the tins as suggested, this will stop the outsides overcooking. Let us know if you need any more help.
Remedia Fernandes's picture
Remedia Fernandes
20th Nov, 2019
By Butter, I am presuming you mean 'unsalted' butter, right?
4th Nov, 2019
Presumably as I have no ground almonds and no access to any in my part of Spain I can increase flour and/or fruit. Hlep by tomorrow 12pm Spanish time would be much appreciated.
goodfoodteam's picture
9th Nov, 2019
Thanks for your question. You can use an additional 100g plain flour.
1st Nov, 2019
Hi, what can I use instead of the alcohol please? Thanks!
goodfoodteam's picture
2nd Nov, 2019
Thanks for your question. You can use cold tea as an alternative in this recipe or check out the following alcohol-free alternative: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/you-it-christmas-cake
hurkydoesntknow's picture
27th Oct, 2019
I made the recipe as directed but have lots of leftover fruit soaking in brandy. Could I save it for next year's Christmas cakes or just use them in a Christmas pudding? How would I preserve the fruit for next year?
11th Sep, 2019
I would like to know How long before Christmas can i make this cake. Thank you.
goodfoodteam's picture
12th Sep, 2019
Thanks for your question. We'd suggest making the cake up to three months before Christmas. Wrap it tightly in a baking parchment, then foil and keep it in an airtight container. Feed every few weeks as suggested above.
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


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