best ever christmas cake.jpg

Best-ever Christmas fruit cake

Christmas cakes are full of decadence with fruits, butter, sugar, spice and plenty of booze featuring prominently in the list of ingredients. You can make your cake up to three months before Christmas, or even earlier if you would like to freeze it, but even with only a month until the big day you will still have a delightful cake for Christmas. Christmas cakes benefit from this long lead-time because the flavours mature over time. Many people mark the last Sunday before Advent as ‘Stir Up Sunday’, the day to make your Christmas cake, pudding and mince pie mix.

How long will it take?

Overnight + approximately 2 hours

What’s the serving size?

Serves 10+

What do I need?

  • 250g currants
  • 250g sultanas
  • 100g dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 100g glacé cherries, cut in half
  • 100g mixed peel
  • 125ml whisky, plus extra to feed
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 130g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g ground almonds
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 50g whole almonds
  • 25g crystallised ginger, chopped

How do I make it?

Put the dried fruit and peel in a bowl along with the whisky, cover and leave to soak overnight. Stir well before use. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with 2 layers of baking paper.

Preheat the oven to 120C. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition so the mixture doesn’t curdle.

Mix together the sifted flour, baking powder, spice, ground almonds and a pinch of salt and then fold this into the butter and sugar mixture. Add the soaked fruits, and any remaining whisky, the lemon zest, chopped almonds and ginger, and stir to combine.

Tip the mixture into your prepared tin and smooth the surface, scooping out a small hollow in the middle to prevent a doming effect.

Put the cake in the oven for about an hour, then cover with foil, and bake for another 30 minutes and then check the cake. It’s done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean – check every 10 minutes until it’s cooked.

Leave to cool in the tin then use the skewer to poke a few holes almost all the way through the cake, and brush them with more whisky (this process is called ‘feeding’).

With the baking paper still attached, wrap well in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight tin or a layer of foil, repeating the feeding every week or so until Christmas. You can ice your cake if desired just before Christmas or serve un-iced if you prefer.


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