Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Christmas cake ... it's almost that time of year

Gosh, it has been ages since I posted anything :-(  Being on crutches was definitely not very helpful when it came to cooking but I am pleased to say that I can now walk almost normally and that as of yesterday I don't have to use my sticks anymore!  Hooray!  That in turn means that there will be no holding me back from trying out recipes again and skipping around in the kitchen - well, not so much skipping but you get the idea.

At the weekend I did manage to start making our Christmas cake.  I usually make two cakes - one to take home to the family in Germany and one for us to have when we are back home.  I love this particular recipe as you can make it a few weeks in advance or if pushed for time, a couple of days before Christmas.  I love how the flavours develop when you prepare it ahead of time, so that's what I usually do.  I also use a shallower tin, making a much "flatter" cake than is traditional but I always find that it is quite rich with all that fruit and icing, so smaller pieces are not necessarily a bad thing.  There is a non-alcohol option to this cake, using orange juice instead of brandy (although there is not that much of the latter in there anyway).  The decorations pictured are those from last year - I'm still thinking of what the design should look like this year, so watch this space. 

How to make an easy & tasty Christmas cake

Christmas cake


For the cake:

200ml hot, strong black tea (use any type)
3 tbsp whisky
3 tbsp good-quality orange marmalade, thin or medium shred
900g mixed dried fruits (including mixed dried peel, glace cherries, cranberries etc)
225g butter
225g golden caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
225g plain flour
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
finely grated zest 1 lemon

To feed the cake:

50ml hot black tea
1 tbsp whisky (or use orange juice if you prefer)


  1. Mix the hot tea, whisky and marmalade in a large bowl. Stir in all of the dried fruit, then cover and leave to soak overnight.
  2. Next day, heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3 and grease and double-line a 20cm round, deep cake tin with non-stick baking paper (I used a large rectangular tin and sprayed it with easy cake release spray rather than using paper). 
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition, then fold in the flour and spices, followed by the lemon zest and soaked fruit. Add any liquid that hasn’t been absorbed by the fruit, too. Spoon into the prepared tin, level the top, then bake for 1½ hrs. Turn the oven down to 140C/fan 120C/gas 1 and bake for another 1½ hrs or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack in the tin. PLEASE NOTE: my baking time was much less as my cake is much more shallow than the traditional cake which is quite thick - my cake was baked in 90 minutes.
  4. While the cake is still warm, use the skewer to pepper the cake with holes, poking it all the way down. Mix the tea with the whisky or orange juice, then spoon over the surface. If you’re making the cake ahead of time, feed it with a fresh swig of hot toddy every week, but take care not to make the cake soggy. PLEASE NOTE:  I usually apply a bit of the hot toddy with a pastry brush which avoids soaking the cake too much.
  5. Can be kept for a month well-wrapped in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If short on time, the cake can be made the same day that you decorate it.
  6. When ready to decorate, baste the cake with apricot jam, then add a layer of ready to roll marzipan, followed by one of royal icing (for further instructions on how to do this, please see this link:How to ice a fruit cake)

 (recipe amended from BBC Good Food)


  1. Your recipe sounds yummy Kirsten. I have a similar one I've been using for 40 years for Christmas or Wedding Cakes and I have 'tweaked' it over that length of time. Just a warning do be careful with dried fruits because they often have large amounts of sulphur on them which keeps bugs away while the fruit is drying. They also contain a lot of vegetable oil to make them shiny. Never fear there is a solution. The dried fruit can be rinsed in two or three changes of just off the boil hot water. You will be amazed at just how dirty the rinsing water actually is. This rinsing a few times with almost boiling water also serves to plump out the fruit too :-) Good to hear from you after a longish absence :-)

    1. Aw, it's good to be back & read your lovely comment! Very good point about rinsing the dried fruit - I'll add that to the recipe. I hope all is well with you! Kirsten x

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    1. Oh, good question! I'm not sure but will see what I can find out. Kirsten

  3. How much time will it take for the entire process?

    1. Hi Carin! There's the overnight soaking of the fruit, approx. 20 mins to make the cake mix & then baking time of 1.5 - 3 hrs depending on the size tin you use (my flatter cake took 1.5 hrs). I hope this helps but please let me know if you need other details. Kirsten x