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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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.
Brenda harrrison
21st Nov, 2015
What size cake tin should I use
8th Oct, 2016
It tells you.
18th Nov, 2015
I made this cake for the first time last Christmas and I have just made it again today. It's the best Christmas cake I have ever made and it received many complements for it being so moist and tasty. It's the only Christmas cake recipe I will ever use from now on. It is a really easy to follow recipe. Definitely 5 stars.
18th Nov, 2015
Looking forward to stir up Sunday made this cake two years running great recipe last year I cooked it in a bunte tin decorated it with holly leaves and red berries made out of fondant icing looked like a Christmas wreath and it was so moist but I might try adding some dark treacle this year thanks for tip bernadette709
18th Oct, 2015
Made this a couple of years ago and really, felt like Christmas. Just popped another in the oven for this year and hope it's as good as the last. Added a couple of soup spoons of dark treacle to give it a bit of a darker colour.
8th Oct, 2016
Not good adding that, will make it bitter.
21st Sep, 2015
I made this last Christmas as my first Christmas cake ever and it is amazing, the ingredients set me back about £20 although it makes a large cake that lasted us through the festive period for an entire month! I made mine mid Nov and fed it every week for 4-5 weeks a tablespoon of brandy, it was moist, tasty, very fruity and just delicious. I covered mine in marzipan and white fondant icing, a real hit, thanks James Martin! ;)
16th Sep, 2015
I made this cake last year and it was best I have ever made! Everyone loved it. It was beautifully moist, I did feed it every week in the 6wks leading up to the big day and it went in no time. I will definitely be making it again this year.


12th Nov, 2014
I've never made a mature cake, does it have to be kept in a fridge to mature?
goodfoodteam's picture
20th Nov, 2014
It needs to be kept in a cool dark place, if you don't have to use nuts, leave them out and add extra fruit.
22nd Nov, 2013
Can this be made without the nuts as we have allergies in the family. If not, what can be used as a substitute? Thanks for your help
9th Nov, 2014
Yep, you can make this without nuts, just use more flour in substitute for the ground almonds and miss the flaked almonds out altogether… You can basically put in whatever you want (within reason of course!) and it will always taste amazing… xxx


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