A contentious dessert during the Christmas period is the Christmas fruit cake which is either loved or hated.
The Christmas cake is a British tradition that has been popularised across the world. The cake is made days, weeks or even a month in advance to give it time to mature over time and develop its flavours with the help of brandy.
Making a Christmas cake is a tradition in some households, especially those who love a generous amount of dried fruit in their cake, such as raisins, cranberries, glazed cherries and the crunchy element of nuts.
Some people swear by making their cake as early as mid-November, however, the gold standard is to make it at least two to four weeks before Christmas.
This Christmas cake recipe has the option of adding marzipan on top after your cake is ready.
Simple Christmas Cake Recipe
- 175g (¾ cup) unsalted butter, chopped
- 210g (1 packed cup) light brown muscovado sugar
- 400g (2 + ⅔ cups) mixed dried fruit
- 200g (1 cup) glacé cherries – roughly chopped
- 100g (1 cup) dried cranberries
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 120ml (½ cup) cherry brandy
- 85g (½ cup) ground almonds – (coarsely ground – not the type that is like flour)
- 3 large eggs – lightly whisked
- 200g (1 + ⅔ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
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To feed the cake:
Cherry brandy – (1-2 tbsp per week)
- Take a large saucepan pan and add the butter, sugar, dried mixed fruit, glacé cherries, cranberries, orange & lemon zest and juice and all but 4 tbsp of the cherry brandy.
- Heat on medium heat until the mixture comes to a gentle bubble, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the pan from the heat and leave it to cool for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 150C/300F and line a 20cm (~8inch) spring-form round cake tin (with a removable base) with baking parchment (I find it’s easier to line the sides first so they’re about 2″ above the cake tin, then cut out a circle for the base and push it in).
- Add the ground almonds into the slightly cooled fruit mixture and mix, then stir in the eggs.
- Add the flour, baking powder and spices and fold together until everything is just combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth flat with the back of a spoon.
- Bake for 45 minutes, then turn down the heat to 140C/275F and cook for a further 1-1+½ hours, until the cake is dark brown on top and an inserted skewer comes out clean (note: if you’re using a gas oven, the cake may take 15-30 minutes longer to cook). Cover the top of the cake with foil if it starts to darken too much.
- Take it out of the oven, and whilst it’s still hot, use a skewer to make about 10-12 holes all over the cake.
- Pour the 4 tablespoons of cherry brandy all over the top of the cake.
- Leave the cake to cool in the tin. then remove it and wrap it in a double layer of baking parchment and then in a double layer of foil. Place in an air-tight container at room temperature.
- Feed with 1-2 tbsp cherry brandy once a week up until a few days before you marzipan and ice the cake.
This recipe can be found on kitchensanctuary.com