Simmer-&-stir Christmas cake

Simmer-&-stir Christmas cake

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(207 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 a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 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…

  • 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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Lesley Thomson
24th Apr, 2020
Excellent cake. Really easy recipe! This past year was the first time I’d make a Christmas cake and it went down a storm. I was a bit late making it so only made three weeks before Christmas and fed it with brandy once a week until Christmas Day. I topped with apricot jam then fondant icing because I’m not keen on marzipan. I normally don’t eat fruit cake but this was fantastic.
28th Dec, 2019
Brilliant recipe. Cake was perfectly baked, moist and delicious. Would definitely use this recipe again.
27th Dec, 2019
Rave reviews from guests - never seen a cake disappear so fast!
18th Nov, 2019
Fantastic recipe. Made it for the first time when it was first published and I was 14, have made it every year since. My absolute go to recipe. Moist, delicious and always a crowd pleaser.
17th Nov, 2019
This is simply an outstanding cake. I’ve been making it for almost 10 years. I used it to make the three tiers for my wedding cake too. It is moist and delicious and gets incredible feedback from everyone. I don’t like lumps of nuts in a cake, so I just omit the chopped nuts and increase the ground almonds a bit. Perfect. I’ve just made 2019’s cake. A thin layer of marzipan and fondant Just before Christmas and it can’t get more yummy.
7th Nov, 2019
My go to Christmas cake recipe, so easy and the cake is so moist, made it again today for the third year running. I stick to the recipe but soak the dried fruit overnight in brandy before I make the cake and feed it every week with more brandy until Christmas although we tend not to get round to eating it until January. I don’t decorate it as just prefer a straightforward fruit cake, delicious!
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


17th May, 2020
Is it possible to freeze this after a couple of months at room temperature please?
lulu_grimes's picture
20th May, 2020
Hi, Yes you could if the cake is in good condition. Lulu
16th May, 2020
Would it be possible to freeze this cake a couple of months after storing it at room temperature please?
15th Dec, 2019
Anybody made this dairy free? I'm new to dairy free baking/cooking and so I've no idea if substituting the butter for dairy free margarine will work?! Any help much appreciated!
lulu_grimes's picture
16th Dec, 2019
Hello, We haven't tested this with dairy-free margarine but we do have a dairy-free fruit cake, I've posted the recipe below. The recipe uses gluten-free flour but you could use ordinary flour. I've also posted a link to our dairy-free Christmas recipe collection. I hope this helps.
16th Dec, 2019
I’ve gone ahead and made it..! Fingers crossed!
Melissa Inness's picture
Melissa Inness
29th Oct, 2019
Do I need to wrap the outside of the tin in paper as I would with other fruit cakes?
goodfoodteam's picture
2nd Nov, 2019
Thanks for your question. The oven temperature is quite low so the you do not need to wrap this cake. It will cook well without the sides becoming overdone or burnt. However, we'd suggest covering the top of the cake with foil if it starts to darken too much.
26th Oct, 2019
I unfortunately omitted to add the 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. Is this likely to result in the cake being inedible?
goodfoodteam's picture
2nd Nov, 2019
Thanks for your question. Many Christmas cake recipes don't include any baking powder at all. This is because they are meant to be a dense, fruity consistency. We've added a small amount in ours but the cake will still work really well without it.


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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