Simmer-&-stir Christmas cake

Simmer-&-stir Christmas cake

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(194 ratings)

Prep: 1 hr - 1 hr, 15 mins Cook: 1 hr - 2 hrs, 30 mins (cooking time 2 hrs 30 if gas oven)

More effort

Makes a 20cm round cake
An easy-to-make alternative to traditional Christmas cakes which requires no beating

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable


  • kcal-
  • fat-
  • saturates-
  • carbs-
  • sugars-
  • fibre-
  • protein-
  • salt-
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  • 175g butter, chopped



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 200g dark muscovado sugar
  • 750g luxury mixed dried fruit (one that includes mixed peel and glacé cherries)
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange



    One of the best-known citrus fruits, oranges aren't necessarily orange - some varieties are…

  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon



    Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…

  • 100ml/3½ fl oz cherry brandy or brandy plus 4tbsp more



    Brandy is a distilled spirit made from virtually any fermented fruit or starchy vegetable.…

  • 85g macadamia nut
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

  • 85g ground almond


    arr-mund or al-mund

    Sweet almonds have a subtle fragrance that lends itself well to baking and also works well with…

  • 200g plain flour
  • 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…

  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon



    A fragrant spice which comes from the inner bark of a tropical tree. When dried, it curls into…

  • ¼ tsp ground allspice


  1. Put the butter, sugar, fruit, zests, juice and 100ml/3½fl oz brandy in a large pan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the butter has melted. Reduce the heat and bubble for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2/ fan 130C and line a 20cm round cake tin. Toast the nuts in a dry frying pan, tossing them until evenly browned, or in the oven for 8-10 minutes - keep an eye on them as they burn easily. When they are cool, chop roughly. Stir the eggs, nuts and ground almonds into the fruit mixture and mix well. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the pan. Stir in gently, until there are no traces of flour left.

  4. Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth it down evenly - you will find this is easiest with the back of a metal spoon which has been dipped into boiling water.

  5. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn down the heat to 140C/gas 1/ fan120C and cook for a further 1-1¼ hours (about a further 1¾ hours if you have a gas oven) until the cake is dark golden in appearance and firm to the touch. Cover the top of the cake with foil if it starts to darken too much. To check the cake is done, insert a fine skewer into the centre - if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

  6. Make holes all over the warm cake with a fine skewer and spoon the extra 4tbsp brandy over the holes until it has all soaked in. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. When it's cold, remove it from the tin, peel off the lining paper, then wrap first in baking parchment and then in foil. The cake will keep in a cupboard for up to three months or you can freeze it for six months.

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Comments, questions and tips

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S S's picture
2nd Oct, 2019
I've been making this cake every Christmas for the last 5 or 6 years. Great for someone like me who's terrible at baking. The cake has turned out wonderful every time and has become a family favourite. I usually add a lot more nuts into the mixture and it turns out really well.
1st Dec, 2018
I have made this twice, no alcohol just fresh squeezed orange juice and the same to feed it. Personally I do not like xmas cake but oh my gosh it was so delicious. I love this recipe, so moist sooo nice and that was only after 2 weeks x
25th Nov, 2018
I've just made this cake today for the 6th year in a row, it's simplicity itself! I think I take longer to zest the orange and lemon ( is there an easy way of doing it?) than all the other elements put together! It's so much simpler than the standard recipes, and I use the zesty orange marzipan to finish, it's excellent.
Louise Cini's picture
Louise Cini
17th Nov, 2018
Since I discovered this recipe I do not change for another one. Super easy to make, no need of any mixers as it's done all in one pan and everyone loves it. I even recommended it to my friends and they sticked to it too. Thanks for sharing
10th Nov, 2018
Love this recipe. Have made several times now not only for Christmas but also used this recipe for my daughter's wedding cake. It is extremely moist and I had lots of lovely comments about how delicious the cakes were. This is my go to recipe now for Christmas cake and I have tried several different recipes but this has been the best.
22nd Mar, 2018
Amazing! My first time baking Christmas cake and what a hit. I made 2 of these at the beginning of November and fed them weekly until Christmas before he marzipan and icing. I stuck to the recipe and oh my days the cake was moist and tasty. My husband didn’t like Christmas cake before he tried this recipe. Everyone who received a slice wanted more. I’ll definitely use his recipe yearly.
5th Jan, 2018
Delicious! Super easy- the first Christmas cake I have ever made and I can't imagine why I would ever look for a different recipie. The cake was moist, rich and very tasty. I followed it to the letter and then marzipanned/ iced for serving up. Yum!
1st Jan, 2018
Without a doubt the best Christmas cake I have ever tasted. I made it two weeks before Christmas and fed it with brandy a few times inbetween. I left out the macadamia nuts because I don't like nuts in fruit cake. Just perfect and so easy to make. Will definitely be making every year from now on!
28th Dec, 2017
Much drier than most cakes. Condemned to the freezer in chunks to be eaten with custard.
25th Nov, 2017
super easy! I may possibly have had a heavy hand with the cherry brandy but it isn't too overpowering a flavour. Hugely popular recipe with friends and family.


4th Nov, 2018
I have made this cake before and have always uses an 8" round tin, but this year I would like to make it in a 7" round tin. Could you tell me if the cooking times will be different. Ruth
goodfoodteam's picture
6th Nov, 2018
Thanks for your question. The quantities and cooking times in this recipe are designed for an 8" tin. If you transfer it to a 7" the cake will be deeper and this will affect the cooking time. Unfortunately we can't give exact timings without testing. We'd always recommend using the suggested tin size for best results.
Louise Rouse's picture
Louise Rouse
21st Dec, 2017
How soon after making can this cake be eaten?
goodfoodteam's picture
23rd Dec, 2017
Thanks for your question. You can eat this straightaway.
8th Dec, 2016
Is the cake moist enough?? I dont like the cakes to be dry
28th Dec, 2017
Quite dry sadly.
goodfoodteam's picture
9th Dec, 2016
We can assure you it is moist! And the brandy added in the final step also helps to contribute to this.
4th Dec, 2016
Can I make this recipe into smaller cakes or muffins to give as gifts? Would I just reduce the cooking time? Or would it be ok to just slice/cut to size once baked?
goodfoodteam's picture
8th Dec, 2016
We'd suggest cooking smaller versions rather than cutting the cake as they will stay fresher for longer. Yes, the cooking time will need to be adjusted and this is something you'll need to experiment with as we have not tested different sizes in our Test Kitchen. Depending on the size, you'll need to keep an eye on the cakes from quite early on to avoid overcooking.
becmsmith (not verified)
30th Nov, 2015
I'd really like to try this. Is there any substitute for macadamia nuts - my son can't eat. Or can I just leave out altogether? Thanks


13th Nov, 2018
Mine took an hour and a half longer to cook
11th Dec, 2015
This fruit cake is delicious. I've been making boiled fruit cake for years. It was an old recipe and nice...I saw this one and wanted to change. After reading the comment below I left out the maple syrup altogether even though I love maple syrup, but don't like overly sweet cakes. It's moist and full of fruit and almost like a christmas pudding. It will be my favourite from now on. I make Christmas cakes as gifts for neighbours in place of a card. I collect large tuna tins during the year and wash them and put them away then at Christmas I make a fruit cake and divide it amongst 4 tins and bake them. I then wrap them in cellophane to give away. This year I used this recipe to do that. Hope everyone has a nice Christmas! Thanks for the lovely recipe :)
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