How to make a christmas cake

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This cake is a rich, dark, moist fruit cake, very flavorful at Christmas. Try icing with almond paste for a more festive touch. This recipe is started in October or November so as to let it mellow before the holidays. I remember very well my mother storing her fruit cake in an old butter churn that belonged to my grandmother and great grandmother. I wish that I had that old crock.

Gallery

Recipe Summary

Ingredients

In a medium bowl, combine cherries, citrus peel, raisins, currants, dates, and almonds. Stir in brandy; let stand 2 hours, or overnight. Dredge soaked fruit with 1/2 cup flour.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Grease an 8x8x3 inch fruit cake pan, line with parchment paper, and grease again. In a small bowl, mix together 2 cups flour, baking soda, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter until light. Gradually blend in brown sugar and eggs. Mix together molasses and apple juice. Beat into butter mixture alternately with flour mixture, making 4 dry and 3 liquid additions. Fold in floured fruit. Turn batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean. Remove from pan, and lift off paper. Cool cake completely, then wrap loosely in waxed paper. Store in an airtight container.

94
4 star values:

17
3 star values:

5
2 star values:

1
1 star values:

  • Read Reviews
  • Add Review
  • 120 Ratings
  • 94 Reviews
  • 26 Photos

This cake is a rich, dark, moist fruit cake, very flavorful at Christmas. Try icing with almond paste for a more festive touch. This recipe is started in October or November so as to let it mellow before the holidays. I remember very well my mother storing her fruit cake in an old butter churn that belonged to my grandmother and great grandmother. I wish that I had that old crock.

Gallery

Recipe Summary

Ingredients

In a medium bowl, combine cherries, citrus peel, raisins, currants, dates, and almonds. Stir in brandy; let stand 2 hours, or overnight. Dredge soaked fruit with 1/2 cup flour.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Grease an 8x8x3 inch fruit cake pan, line with parchment paper, and grease again. In a small bowl, mix together 2 cups flour, baking soda, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter until light. Gradually blend in brown sugar and eggs. Mix together molasses and apple juice. Beat into butter mixture alternately with flour mixture, making 4 dry and 3 liquid additions. Fold in floured fruit. Turn batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean. Remove from pan, and lift off paper. Cool cake completely, then wrap loosely in waxed paper. Store in an airtight container.

How to make a christmas cake

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
585 Calories
17g Fat
107g Carbs
7g Protein

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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 585
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 21%
Saturated Fat 10g 49%
Cholesterol 108mg 36%
Sodium 168mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 107g 39%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 75g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 74mg 6%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 571mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

There are some parts of a Christmas celebration in Britain which just don’t change, especially the traditional Christmas cake. A British Christmas isn’t complete without this classic treat on the table. At first glance, making this cake may look complicated because it seems like a lot of ingredients, but it’s actually very easy. The secret is to prepare and weigh all the ingredients, and line the tin before you start any mixing. The assembly is straightforward. The rest is an exercise in patience; the wait begins.

The cake needs a long, slow bake and a little TLC. It is packed with sugars, fruits, and brandy, and if the temperature is any higher, the outside of the cake will burn and the inside will be undercooked. Additionally, the cake benefits greatly from resting on a layer of newspaper while it’s in the oven; this helps insulate and protect the cake so it cooks evenly. While it’s baking, avoid opening the oven door too often, as this may cause the cake to collapse.

Ideally, Christmas cake should be made at least two months before Christmas, which allows ample time for the cake to be fed at regular intervals with brandy, which, in turn, helps to mature the cake. However, if you are making it closer to the holiday, you can be assured the cake will still taste as good, though it may not store as long as a mature one (the brandy helps keep it moist).

If you have time, you can also soak the dried mixed fruits the night before in a little extra brandy and proceed with the recipe the next day, which creates an even more moist cake.

No British Holiday Celebration Is Complete Without This Brandied Fruit Cake

How to make a christmas cake

No British holiday is complete without a classic Christmas cake. Though this recipe may look complicated, it’s actually quite approachable if you assemble and weigh all the ingredients and line the cake tin before you start.
The cake can be made at least two months before Christmas for it to mature and to be fed with brandy earlier if you’d like. If you are making it later, don’t worry—it will still taste delicious.

Click Play to See This Recipe Come Together

A Classic British Christmas Cake

How to make a christmas cake

For the cake, you will need:

  • 2 1/2 sticks butter (slightly softened)
  • 10 ounces soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 lemon (zested)
  • 6 large eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 18 ounces currants
  • 10 ounces all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground)
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 ounces golden raisins/sultanas
  • 8 ounces raisins
  • 4 ounces mixed candied peel (finely chopped)
  • 6 ounces glace cherries (halved)
  • 3 tablespoons brandy (plus more for feeding)

Line the Cake Tin

How to make a christmas cake

Line a 9-inch cake tin with two layers of parchment or greaseproof paper. Tie a double band of brown or newspaper paper around the outside. This acts as an insulator to prevent the cake from burning on the outside.

Cream the Butter and Sugar

How to make a christmas cake

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the lemon zest. Add the beaten eggs to the butter mixture a little bit at a time, beating well after each addition. Do not try to rush this process as the mixture could curdle. If it does curdle simply add a tablespoon of flour and mix again. This should bring the mixture back together. If it doesn’t come back together, don’t fret, the cake will still be delicious.

The Cake Batter

How to make a christmas cake

Once you have creamed together the butter, sugar and added the eggs, your mixture should be light, fluffy, and pale in color.

Combine the Flour, Spices, and Dried Fruit

How to make a christmas cake

In a separate bowl, add the flour, spices, and salt to the dried fruits and stir really well making sure there is no flour at the bottom of the bowl.

Finish the Cake Batter

How to make a christmas cake

Carefully fold in half the flour and fruit into the egg and butter mixture. Once incorporated, repeat with the remaining flour and fruit. Finally, add the brandy.

Pour Batter Into the Tin

How to make a christmas cake

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin, making sure there are no air pockets. Once filled, smooth the surface with the back of a spoon and make a slight dip in the center (this will rise back up again during cooking and create a smooth surface for icing the cake).

Preheat the oven to 300 F. Bake in the center of the oven for 4 1/2 hours. If the cake is browning too rapidly, cover the tin with a double layer of greaseproof or parchment paper after 2 1/2 hours. During the cooking time, avoid opening the oven door too often as this may cause the cake to collapse.

Leave to Cool

How to make a christmas cake

Set the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for an hour. Remove it from the tin, taking off the paper, and leave to cool completely.

Once cooled, prick the surface of the cake with a fine metal skewer and slowly pour over 2 to 3 tablespoons of brandy. This feeding should be repeated every two weeks up until Christmas.
The cake should be wrapped in greaseproof or parchment paper and stored in an airtight tin.

If you like to ​ice the Christmas cake, leave this for until a week or two before Christmas, or served as it is. It’s delicious with a piece of Wensleydale Cheese.

  • Total Time 1h 10m
  • Prep Time 10 m
  • Calories 435

Ingredients of Christmas Cake

  • 150 gm dried cranberries
  • 150 gm raisins
  • 2 tablespoon orange zest
  • 150 gm butter
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 3 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 200 gm chopped prunes
  • 1 lemon
  • 150 ml orange juice
  • 200 gm all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 175 gm brown sugar

How to make Christmas Cake

Step 1 Soak the dry fruits in juices and preheat the oven

In a large bowl, add cranberries, prunes and raisins. Add lemon juice, orange juice and orange zest in it. Let the dry fruits soak overnight in the juices. Now, preheat the oven at 160 degrees centigrade. Grease and line the 9-inch diameter pan on the base and around the periphery.

Step 2 Boil the soaked dried-fruit mixture and then mix flour and sugar in it

Transfer the soaked dry fruits mixture into the pan, place the pan on flame and bring the mixture to boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes. Take it off the flame and let it cool. In a bowl, mix all-purpose flour and baking powder. Keep it aside. In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well.

Step 3 Make the final batter for cake

Now, add vanilla essence, cinnamon and clove powder to the egg mixture and mix well. Add dry fruits mixture along with the juice and flour mixture. Fold everything well. Transfer the mixture to the lined pan and level it evenly with a spatula.

Step 4 Bake the cake for 50 minutes

Bake the cake for 50 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake to rest for a few minutes inside the oven. Take out the cake and cool it completely. Carefully take out the pan, and peel off the parchment paper. Wrap the cake well with cling film and store. Cut and serve.

Published: Oct 20, 2020 · Modified: Oct 29, 2020 by Nicky Corbishley

An easy Christmas cake that turns out perfect every time. No creaming, beating or soaking of fruit required!
Plus tips on storage and feeding your Christmas cake (boozy and non-boozy).
Read why November really is the time to make your Christmas Cake!

How to make a christmas cake

Arrghhh! How did it to November already??

Lewis mentioned earlier this week that there are only 7 more weekends until Christmas. What.

I still haven’t put my flip-flops away from Summer yet.

After being faced with the reality that I’m going to have to start thinking about Christmas trees, house decorations, food and presents pretty rapidly, I decided to get going with my first festive tradition – the Christmas cake.

In fact, I usually end up making one main cake, another smaller version for my mum and dad, and then two even smaller versions for the kids to decorate.

I’ve even been known to make an additional one for Chris to eat right away – fruit cake fiend that he is.

When should you make a Christmas cake?

Traditional fruit Christmas cake tastes at its absolute best if it’s allowed to mature before you eat it.

This allows the flavours meld together deliciously. During this time, you should also feed the cake with a tablespoon of rum/whisky/brandy (or my personal favourites – cherry brandy and/or amaretto) once a week or so. This helps to build and intensify the flavour of the cake, and will ensure it’s beautifully moist.

You can start this process by baking a two or three months in advance – but who wants to start baking for Christmas when the September sunshine is still blazing!

Personally, I think early November is perfect, as we’re just starting to feel a little Christmassy, and I know I’ll be able to give the cake at least 4 or 5 feedings before I decorate it.

How to make it

No soaking of fruit, sugar & butter creaming, beating in flour etc.

Most of the work is done by bubbling things up in a pan (into the pan goes butter, brown sugar, dried fruit (I like mixed dried fruit including cranberries), glace cherries, orange zest and juice, lemon zest and cherry brandy) for 10 minutes.

How to make a christmas cake

Then we leave to cool for a few minutes before adding in ground almonds and 3 eggs. Stir together, then add in flour, baking powder, mixed spice, cinnamon and allspice and fold it all together with a wooden spoon.

Line a 23cm (9 inch) cake tin (check out my video just above the recipe card for tips on how to do this) and spoon in the cake mix.

Then bake in the oven at 150C/300F for 45 minutes, then 140C/275F for a further 60-75 minutes – until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

How to make a christmas cake

Once it comes out of the oven, we skewer the hot cake all over – about 20 times, then spoon over another couple of tablespoons of cherry brandy.

How to Store Christmas Cake

After the initial feeding you want to double wrap the rich fruit cake in baking parchment, then double wrap again in foil and place in a tin.

Feeding the Cake

You can feed the Christmas cake once a week or so with a tablespoon or two of cherry brandy right up until a few days before you’re ready to ice the cake (presuming that you are going to ice the cake).

Beware, this cake does contain a reasonable amount of cherry brandy – both in the cake mix and through feeding the cake more brandy afterwards. Personally, I don’t think you can taste the actual alcohol – it just gives the cake a more rich and fruity flavour and moist texture.

If you want a non-alcoholic version, you can check out my suggestions further down this post.

How to make a christmas cake

That’s it – one cake that you’ll want to eat every time you open it up to feed it. Resist that temptation!

I usually marzipan and ice my cake a few days before Christmas. Sometimes we just can’t wait though, and that cake has to be eaten as it is!
Want to see what the cake looks like inside? Here you go:

How to make a christmas cake

Do you need to soak the fruit first?

A lot of people suggest that you need to do this, but you don’t need to for this Christmas cake recipe.

The simmering of the fruit with the alcohol, butter and orange juice will ensure the fruit is plump and juicy.

What is the best alcohol to put in a Christmas cake?

A reasonably strong spirit (around 40% ABV) with a warm, fiery flavour will compliment the flavour of the cake, and help to preserve the cake, so it will keep for longer.

You can use standard rum, whisky or brandy. I wouldn’t use the most expensive variety – the sugar in the cake and the sugars in the fruit add a lot of sweet richness to the cake, so it’s difficult to tell the difference between an expensive brand or a cheaper brand of spirit anyway.

Personally, I like to use spirits that have a bit of a Christmas feel to them. Cherry brandy, amaretto, orange liqueur (Cointreau or Grand Marnier) and spiced rum (such as Kraken rum) are my favourites. You can use one of these, or alternate between a couple of spirits – i.e. cherry brandy and amaretto flavours work great together for a subtle cherry-almond sweetness to the cake.

Can I make my Christmas cake without alcohol?

For a non-alcoholic version, you can replace the alcohol with cold tea, fresh orange or apple juice.
You can then feed the cake with either:

  • Cold tea
  • Fresh orange or apple juice
  • Ginger cordial mixed with water (2 tsp mixed with 2 tbsp water)
  • Rum flavouring mixed with water (⅛ tsp mixed with 2 tbsp water).

If you do this, don’t make the cake any earlier than November , as juice (as opposed to alcohol) could start tasting funny after more than a couple of months.

How to make a christmas cake

How to make a christmas cake

Mary Berry’s been making her traditional Christmas cake recipe for as long as Paul Hollywood’s been alive. She knows what she’s talking about. If you don’t have the required tin size, go to her cake calculator to recalculate the ingredients and cooking time for your cake tin.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 175g/6oz raisins
  • 350g/12oz natural glacé cherries, halved, rinsed, and thoroughly dried
  • 500g/1lb 2oz currants
  • 350g/12oz sultanas
  • 150ml/¼pt brandy or sherry, plus extra for feeding
  • 2 oranges, zest only
  • 250g/9oz butter, softened
  • 250g/9oz light or dark muscovado sugar
  • 4 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp black treacle
  • 75g/3oz blanched almonds, chopped
  • 275g/10oz plain flour
  • 1½ tsp mixed spice

For the covering

  • about 3 tbsp apricot jam, warmed and sieved
  • icing sugar
  • 675g/1lb 8oz marzipan

For the royal icing

  • 3 free-range eggs, whites only
  • 675g/1½lb icing sugar, sifted
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • 1½ tsp glycerine

Method

For the cake, place all the dried fruit, including the cherries, into a large mixing bowl, pour over the brandy and stir in the orange zest. Cover with clingfilm and leave to soak for three days, stirring daily.

Grease and line a 23cm/9in deep, round tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 140C/120C Fan/Gas 1.

Measure the butter, sugar, eggs, treacle and almonds into a very large bowl and beat well (preferably with an electric free-standing mixer). Add the flour and ground spice and mix thoroughly until blended. Stir in the soaked fruit. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.

Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for about 4-4½ hours, or until the cake feels firm to the touch and is a rich golden brown. Check after two hours, and if the cake is a perfect colour, cover with foil. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.

When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer and feed with a little extra brandy. Wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and again in foil and store in a cool place for up to three months, feeding at intervals with more brandy. (Don’t remove the lining paper when storing as this helps to keep the cake moist.)

The week before you want to serve, begin covering the cake.

For the covering, stand the cake upside down, flat side uppermost, on a cake board which is 5cm/2in larger than the size of the cake.

Brush the sides and the top of the cake with the warm apricot jam.

Liberally dust a work surface with icing sugar and then roll out the marzipan to about 5cm/2in larger than the surface of the cake. Keep moving the marzipan as you roll, checking that it is not sticking to the work surface. Dust the work surface with more icing sugar as necessary.

Carefully lift the marzipan over the cake using a rolling pin. Gently level and smooth the top of the paste with the rolling pin, then ease the marzipan down the sides of the cake, smoothing it at the same time. If you are careful, you should be able to cover the cake with no excess marzipan to trim but, if necessary, neatly trim excess marzipan from the base of the cake with a small sharp knife. Cover the cake loosely with baking parchment and leave for a few days to dry out before adding the royal icing.

For the royal icing, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they become frothy. Mix in the sifted icing sugar a tablespoonful at a time. You can do this with a hand-held electric whisk, but keep the speed low.

Stir in the lemon juice and glycerine and beat the icing until it is very stiff and white and stands up in peaks.

Cover the surface of the icing tightly with clingfilm and keep in a cool place until needed.

To ice the cake, place all the icing onto the top of the cake. Spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake with a palette knife. For a snow-peak effect, use a smaller palette knife to rough up the icing.

Leave the cake loosely covered overnight for the icing to harden a little, then wrap or store in an airtight container in a cool place until needed.

Recipe Tips

If you like, you can replace half of the glacé cherries with dried apricots. You can also replace up to 75g of the currants with mixed candied peel. For a zestier flavour, use half orange zest and half lemon zest.

You can make Christmas cakes in advance of the big day. These tips for keeping make-ahead cakes fresh will ensure your dessert is presentation-worthy.

Santa’s elves may be able to work all day and night to get Christmas ready, but that doesn’t mean you need to do the same. The beauty of festive layer cakes, chocolate-coated yule logs, and yes, even the traditional fruit cake, is that they can all be made ahead and decorated or wrapped up whenever you’re ready.

These tips will give you a Christmas cake timeline that lets you take your time while making sure it’s still top quality by the time you’re ready to serve or gift. No holiday stress here!

Layer Cakes

How far ahead can I bake layer cakes?

Cake layers freeze and thaw really well, meaning you can bake them up to two weeks ahead. After baking each layer, let them cool at room temperature first, then turn out and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze.

No time to let them cool on the counter? Run a knife along the edge and put the cake pan right in the freezer for about 30 minutes. We love the red and white colors of a classic red velvet cake.

To thaw the cakes, unwrap and let thaw at room temperature for about 30 minutes. They won’t be completely thawed at this point, which is a good thing — it’ll hold its shape and won’t shed as many crumbs when it is time to frost.

How far ahead can I make frosting?

Frosting can be made three to four days ahead and refrigerated. Chilling the frosting will make it quite solid. After letting it sit at room temperature for a few minutes, beat at a low speed or whisk until light and spreadable.

How long can the cake sit out after decorating?

A frosted cake can sit at room temperature for two to three days (the frosting will protect the cake and keep it moist). Instead of covering in plastic wrap, which could smoosh your decorations, top with a cake cover or an upturned bowl or pot. You can also refrigerate it, uncovered, for the same amount of time.

Yule Logs

How far ahead can I bake the cake?

The cake for a yule log can be made about a week ahead. After baking, you’ll want to go ahead and roll up with the parchment paper while it’s warm so it “remembers” its pinwheel swirl for filling and shaping later. Let cool completely at room temperature while it’s rolled, then unroll, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze. Thaw completely before adding the filling, rolling it up, and decorating.

How far ahead can I decorate my yule log?

Just like frosting, the ganache used in a classic yule log will keep it from drying out, so you can decorate and leave at room temperature for one to two days. If your kitchen is on the warm side, refrigerate uncovered, then let sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving.