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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14th Feb, 2019
It’s Valentine’s Day and I just had the next to last sliver of this cake. Absolutely superb. One thing I did do is used whisky and after I’d cooked the fruit in it and the butter etc, I left it overnight to soak before baking the cake. And I topped up fortnightly or so.
10th Jan, 2019
We had a bake off at work (we made 6 different Christmas cakes which we blind tested). This cake came last but made the biggest laugh. When it came to testing this cake, the judges looked like they were at a wine tasting event - using a spit bin! My colleague says she followed the recipe to the letter but it still came out like undercooked gravel! This recipe is one to avoid.
27th Sep, 2019
I don't know what you did to the cake, but it most certainly isn't the recipe. It is reliable and very simple. Peculiar way to judge a contest.
Chelle Leong's picture
Chelle Leong
26th Dec, 2018
Too much raisins but everything else is great
15th Dec, 2018
This is the best Christmas cake recipe I have ever made, it is so moist and flavoursome, will definitely do this again next year
30th Nov, 2018
this recipe is fantastic. So much easier than the tradicional ones . I will definelly adopt for the next Christmas
Fiona Frazer's picture
Fiona Frazer
29th Nov, 2018
Is this best to be stored in fridge or room temp after baked?
2nd Dec, 2018
Just wrapped in clingfilm or foil in a tin in a coolish place, not the fridge :)
Janette Clark's picture
Janette Clark
25th Nov, 2018
First time making a Christmas cake and found this recipe really straightforward. Followed almost to the letter, but I did 'cook' the fruit mixture the day before and let it sit overnight, which seemed to make it a thicker consistency so it wasnt any way near being sloppy as some others have reported. I used a 20cm square cake tin and it took exactly 2 hours to bake. Very pleased with the result, it looks and smells great. Will certainly use this recipe in the future.
Liz Hay's picture
Liz Hay
25th Nov, 2018
First time baking a Christmas cake! I made it in a 23cm tin so it took a bit less time to bake. Smells deliciously boozy. I look forward to slicing into this cake in a few weeks. Used an instant thermometer to check that it was done.


goodfoodteam's picture
11th Dec, 2018
Thanks for your question. This helps to protect the outside of the cake to stop it from becoming overcooked during the long cooking time. Don't worry it won't set fire as long as it's not near a naked flame.
Savya Ramesh's picture
Savya Ramesh
4th Dec, 2018
Could you please include the height/depth of the cake tin used as the cake tins in USA are around 2” high but based on the quantities the cake tin you have used should be higher? If that is the case, do I reduce the baking time?
goodfoodteam's picture
6th Dec, 2018
A deep cake tin tends to be about 3" high. If you cannot get hold of one, you'll need to use a larger tin and reduce the cooking time. We cannot give exact timings as we have not tested this in an alternative tin but would suggest cooking until it starts to look golden on the top and is firm to the touch. If necessary, return to the oven.
29th Nov, 2018
I make this cake every year and I love it. This year, I'm wondering if I might substitute all or half of the butter with hazelnut oil. I prefer to avoid dairy for ethical reasons. Would it work, though? I don't want to jeopardise the whole family's Christmas cake! Thanks!
goodfoodteam's picture
3rd Dec, 2018
Thanks for your question. We're glad you've enjoyed this cake so much. Unfortunately, we haven't tested this so can't give advice on quantities for substitutions. However, we do have a couple of dairy-free Christmas cakes you could make as an alternative: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/vegan-christmas-cake https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2709/gingered-rich-fruit-cake
Sara Sanders
27th Nov, 2018
Hi, this is my first time making Christmas cake. I know I'm a bit late, so I'm going to feed this every week. How should I reheat this on Christmas day? I'm making it to take to my mother in laws as a surprise.
goodfoodteam's picture
27th Nov, 2018
Thanks for your question. You don't need to reheat the cake, just serve it at room temperature.
21st Nov, 2018
Completely new to baking a Christmas cake and just wondering if I’ve left it too late to make? Hoping to make it on stir-up Sunday which leaves a month for it to mature is this enough time?
goodfoodteam's picture
22nd Nov, 2018
No problem! This will still give you enough time to feed the cake once more before Christmas. Enjoy.
21st Nov, 2018
You'll be fine.


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