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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27th Jan, 2013
Mine came out overly dense and almost more like fruit leather than cake. It's very tasty but not the right texture for fruitcake at all. I followed the recipe to the letter though so I don't know what happened.
20th Jan, 2013
Mine was also too moist in the end. I am unsure if it needed more cooking or that I put too much booze in afterwards although on both I did follow the instructions. The taste was good but it turned out more like a Christmas pudding texture than a cake texture. Disappointed.
13th Jan, 2013
meant to say it took a lot longer than the time stated nearer 31/2 hrs but still ab fab moist!!!
13th Jan, 2013
this is the best christmas cake i have ever made, so moist and fruity, I am just finishing off the last piece as i'm writing this and it is till moist and delicious! will be making it again this year and every one after that yum yum yum!!!!
10th Jan, 2013
Okay....cake almost finished! It turned out really well, and any worries I had about it being dry were thankfully unfounded. I did end up "marinading" the fruit overnight as visitors arrived and so baking was postponed. And I used Cointreau as the "basting" liqueur as had no brandy left after marinade! I let it sit for just over 4 weeks before icing with orange zesty marzipan, and then some royal icing, having allowed the marzipan layer air-dry for 24 hours first. Having made this cake for first time, I am only sorry that I didnt make it before this, as I [and everyone who got to taste it!] LOVED it!
31st Dec, 2012
I was very disappointed when I cut this cake. The cake texture was very wet (although it was fine when it cooled and came out of the baking tin) and the icing and marzipan was 'sweaty'. It was matured for several weeks before icing and was stored as per the instructions, but thinking back I was doubtful about using cling film rather than greaseproof paper. Sorry, James, but I will be going back to St Delia next year.
30th Dec, 2012
Great recipe. I iced it with brandy marizpan and then white icing. It went down very well and wasn't overly rich. Had several family members asking for the recipe so will definitely be making this next year :-)
29th Dec, 2012
Fab recipe, the cake was great & will certainly use again and not just for Christmas, thnx James and Good Food
28th Dec, 2012
So easy to make and absolutely delicious. This will definitely become a Christmas tradition in our house.
26th Dec, 2012
I made this cake for this Christmas and I have to say it is absolutely delicious!Even the person who doesn't like those type of cakes enjoyed it.


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