Feeding a Christmas cake with alcohol

Make & mature Christmas cake

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(176 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 fruits…

  • 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 Dec, 2015
I've made this recipe 2 years in a row now and if the family have it their way I'll continue to do so for a long while! Both times the cake has come out perfectly without any amendments to the recommended weights and method. Previously I've fed mine with Spiced Rum and iced with Marzipan and Royal Icing which has been a huge hit. Next year I'm looking forward to experimenting with a different traditional spirit (maybe a few depending on how many orders I get from the family!)
13th Dec, 2015
Can't believe how easy & tasty this is. Never used this method before but definitely recommend it.
12th Dec, 2015
My sister and I got together and made 4 cakes in all, 2 at a time, this is a fantastic, easy to make, super moist cake. Yum Yum!
6th Dec, 2015
I have made this christmas cake twice now and it comes out great five stars all the way for this one. Oh and by the way I'm a bloke and don't do a lot of cooking. Happy Christmas everyone.
2nd Dec, 2015
I am so pleased to see the great comments on this Christmas fruit cake. This will be my first fruit cake and if it tastes half as good as my mother's fruit cakes I will be very pleased. Everything in the receipt makes sense so I hope I won't make a muck of it.
22nd Nov, 2015
Really disappointed with this, I followed this recipe to a tee, including the cooking time and it came out still goey, I thought there was something up when most other recipes have a cooking time of 4 hours. In the end it went for 3 hours 45 mins. I think I'll be sticking to the professional recipes next year.
8th Oct, 2016
Then you didn't check correctly or cook it long enough. It is very simple, all ovens are different and cook at different times. This is a professional recipe.
21st Nov, 2015
I am in the process of making Christmas cake for the first time ever! I don't bake often so am curious to know what the purpose of the newspaper tied around the tins is, I would be grateful for some clarification.
12th Dec, 2015
The newspaper is for insulation so that the side do not dry out :)
21st Nov, 2015
The paper around the outside - whether it's newspaper or brown parcel paper is to stop the outside edges burning before the inside of the cake is cooked during the long slow baking process.


goodfoodteam's picture
13th Mar, 2015
Hi snobbles62 & jmhutchie thank you for getting in touch, this recipe was triple tested using a 20cm / 9 inch cake tin so we cannot guarantee perfect results for different sized tins and quantities. We wouldn't like to guess timings or quantities for larger or smaller versions in case you ended up wasting expensive ingredients. It would be better to find a recipe which uses a cake tin in the size you have or using the tin specified in the recipe as baking is a bit of a science and if you simply halve or double the ingredients the cake structure may not hold correctly. Really hope you find a recipe which suits your needs - let us know how you get on. 
29th Nov, 2015
Oh no I'm worried now as I've just put my 23cm cake in the oven :( I hope it will be ok? I used 1 1/2 times the ingredients and it filled the tin perfectly, I was going to cook for 3hrs and see how it is? I'm quite worried after reading your comment about it not holding structure properly and I'm worried it won't cook properly now.
10th Mar, 2015
I love this cake and I am planning on making it for my daughter's wedding. Can you advise me on quantities and cooking times appropriate for a 12 inch round cake tin? Thank you
11th Jan, 2015
Hi, I am going to use this recipe for a wedding cake. It is 5 tiers. What will the quantities need to be for 12 inch 10 inch 8 inch 6 inch and 4 inch square cakes, as the quantities on here are for 20cm deep tin
11th Mar, 2015
I am planning making a 12 inch cake too. What quantities did you use? Hope it worked out okay. I'm making mine for wedding also. Thank you
Mona Mahajan
4th Dec, 2014
Can I replace butter in the cake with vegetable oil ?
goodfoodteam's picture
5th Dec, 2014
Hi Mona Mahajan adding oil will completely change the texture and flavour of the cake so we wouldn't advise doing so. If you want to make a dairy free version of this cake a dairy free margarine should be fine. 
4th Dec, 2014
Hi there, I've made this cake with vegetable oil and gluten free flour and it turned out perfectly. To get the oil to work I had to change how the ingredients were combined: I made a "mayonaise" with the oil and the eggs, folded-in the flour and the spices, and then added this to the fruit, sugar & alcohol mix. Everything else as per recipe.
sarah babu
23rd Nov, 2014
What can I use instead of alcohol in this cake? I am making this for the whole family to enjoy
goodfoodteam's picture
26th Nov, 2014
Hi there, thanks for your question. The alcohol helps to preserve the cake. I would suggest following an alcohol-free recipe for best results. 


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