Traditional Christmas Cake

Celebrate the festive season in style and bake a traditional Christmas cake that your family will enjoy! 

Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 2hrs 10 mins
Makes: 10-12 slices


  • 1kg mixed dried fruit
  • zest & juice 1 orange
  • zest & juice 1 lemon
  • 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding 
  • 250g pack butter, softened 
  • 200g soft light brown sugar
  • 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
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Step 1: Let's get started! Gather 1kg of mixed dried fruit and add the zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon. We'll also need 150ml of brandy or any other alcohol, 250g of softened butter, and 200g of light, soft brown sugar. Put all these ingredients in a large pan over medium heat.

Step 2: Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Once done, transfer the fruit mixture to a large bowl and let it cool for about 30 minutes.

Step 3: Preheat your oven to 150C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment and wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside, securing it with string.

Step 4: Now it's time to add the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture. Add 175g of plain flour, 100g of ground almonds, ½ tsp of baking powder, 2 tsp of mixed spice, 1 tsp of ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp of ground cloves, 100g of flaked almonds, 4 large eggs, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Mix everything together until well combined, ensuring there are no pockets of flour.

Step 5: Transfer the mixture into the prepared tin, smoothing the top with a spatula. Place it in the centre of the oven and let it bake for 2 hours.

Step 6: Once the cake is out of the oven, use a skewer to poke holes in it and drizzle 2 tablespoons of your chosen alcohol over it. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.

Step 7: Time to store the cake! Peel off the baking parchment and tightly wrap it in cling film. Every fortnight, you can "feed" the cake by adding 1-2 tablespoons of alcohol until you're ready to ice it.

Step 8: For the final week, refrain from feeding the cake to let its surface dry out before icing. Enjoy your delicious masterpiece!

Recipe inspired by James Martin/ BBC Good Food

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