Pic of Christmas cake

Christmas cake

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Christmas cake

Pudding & Cake Serves 8 2h
A classic rich and fruity Christmas cake, to be baked weeks in advance and fed with the odd tot of brandy as the big day approaches. We’ve added some pear for extra fragrance. The cake is ideal just as it is, but if you want to get fancy, it is the perfect base to finish with a layer of marzipan and icing before serving.

Cook's notes

If you don’t want booze in your cake, you can switch it out for orange juice (use the orange that you zest) or some Earl Grey tea instead. You can then just omit the weekly feeding ritual. Double lining the cake tin stops the cake burning before it cooks through. The best way to do it is to grease the first sheet with butter and press the second on top before cutting it all to size. Easier than trying to stick them together once in the tin!


  • 160g butter
  • 100ml brandy, plus more for feeding
  • 400g mixed dried fruit
  • 80g mixed peel
  • 80g dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 60g glacé cherries
  • 160g soft dark sugar
  • 1 orange
  • 1 pear
  • 80g whole almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 3 eggs
  • 160g self-raising flour
Image of Christmas cake


Prep time: 30 min
Cooking time: 1h 30 min
  • Step 1

    Pre-heat your oven to 160⁰C/Gas 3. Use a conventional oven setting without fan if you can, as you want a slow, gentle bake. If you only have a fan setting, reduce the heat to 140⁰C/1 Gas 1. Line an 18cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment (see cook’s notes).
  • Step 2

    Put the butter, brandy, mixed fruit, mixed peel, dried figs, cherries, and sugar into a large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer for 3-4 mins. Remove from the heat, stir well, and allow to cool for 30 mins or until lukewarm.
  • Step 3

    Meanwhile, finely zest the orange
  • Step 4

    When the mix is cool enough, add the orange zest and coarsely grate the pear into the pan, skin and all. Tip in the chopped almonds and mixed spice, and mix together well.
  • Step 5

    In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs for a couple of mins, until light and foamy. Tip them into the pan and stir them in.
  • Step 6

    Finally, tip in the flour. Mix everything together gently until there are no more visible pockets of flour, taking care not to overmix.
  • Step 7

    Transfer to the tin and level it off with the back of a spoon. Bake for 45 mins, then cover the top with a layer of foil to stop the top burning. Bake for a further 45 mins, or until a toothpick or knife tip comes out clean.
  • Step 8

    Leave to cool in the tin, then store in an airtight container, feeding with 2 tablespoons of brandy once a week until Christmas.

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