Traditional Christmas Cake

No British Christmas is ever complete without a classic Christmas cake on the table. If you've not had time to start yours yet, fear not, the perfect Christmas cake is just a bake away. This cake recipe is one my whole family swears by.  You can be as simple or as fancy as you like with the decorations!


  • 1lb 2oz/525g currants
  • 8oz/ 225ggolden raisins/sultanas
  • 8oz / 225g raisins
  • 4oz / 110g mixed candied peel, finely chopped
  • 6oz / 165 glace cherries, halved
  • 10oz/ 300g all purpose or plain flour
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ level tsp mixed spice
  • ½ level tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ level tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2½ sticks / 300g butter, slightly softened
  • 10 oz / 300g soft brown sugar
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp brandy, plus extra for feeding

Heat the oven to 300°F/150°C/Gas 2

The temperature needs to be low as the cake requires a long, slow bake. 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.

  • Line a 9 inch cake tin with two thicknesses of parchment or greaseproof paper. Tie a double band of brown paper around the outside. This acts as an insulator and to prevent the cake from burning on the outside.
  • In a large baking bowl mix the currants, sultanas, raisins, peel and cherries with the flour, salt and spices.
  • In another large bowl cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the lemon zest. Add the beaten egg 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 tbsp 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Stand the tin on a double layer of newspaper in the lower part of the oven, if you have a gas oven ensure the paper is well away from the any flame, and bake for 4½ hours. If the cake is browning too rapidly, cover the tin with a double layer of greaseproof or parchment paper after 2½ hours. During the cooking time avoid opening the oven door too often as this may cause the cake to collapse.
  • After 4½ hours check the cake is cooked. The cake should be nicely risen and a deep brown all over. Insert a skewer or fine knife into the centre of the cake. If there is sticky dough on the skewer when you pull it out it needs to cook a little longer, if it is clean, the cake's done.
  • Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for an hour, then remove from the tin 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 tbsp brandy. This feeding should be repeated every two weeks up until Christmas!

The cake should be stored wrapped in greaseproof or parchment paper in an airtight tin to keep it fresh and stop it from drying out.

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Next on the agenda, it's time to marizpan and ice your cake...

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