Traditional British Christmas Cake Recipe
Moist yet dense, fruity, sweet and dripping in alcohol; no British Christmas is complete without a festively decorated Christmas cake!
If you're looking for a gluten-free Christmas cake or even a vegan Christmas cake, this recipe is easily adapted to suit all dietary requirements.
Christmas fruit cake can be made up to 2 months in advance of the big day to allow it time to mature and to be 'fed' regularly with brandy. A couple of weeks before Christmas is plenty of time though and will make for a delicious dessert!
Christmas Cake Recipe: Ingredients
- 525g currants
- 225g sultanas
- 225g raisins
- 110g mixed candied peel, finely chopped
- 165g glacé cherries, halved
- 300g all purpose/plain flour (if you need a gluten-free Christmas cake, swap for gluten-free flour)
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 300g butter (for a vegan Christmas cake, swap for a dairy-free butter like Nuttelex)
- 300g brown sugar
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten (for a vegan Christmas cake, swap for flax or chia eggs by mixing and allowing to stand EITHER: 6 tbsp ground flaxseed and 15 tbsp water, OR 6 tbsp chia seeds and 18 tbsp water)
- 3 tbsp brandy, plus extra for feeding
- Apricot jam
- Fondant icing
Christmas Cake Recipe: Method
- If you have time, soak the dried mixed fruits the night before in a little extra brandy. It makes for an even more moist cake.
- Preheat the oven to 150˚C - this recipe needs a long slow bake to prevent a burnt outside and an undercooked inside.
- Line a 23cm cake tin with 2 thicknesses of baking paper. Tie a double band of newspaper or brown paper around the outside of the tin. This acts as an insulator and prevents burning.
- In a large bowl, mix the currents, sultanas, raisins, candied peel and glacé cherries with the flour, salt and spices.
- In a second bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the lemon zest.
- Add the eggs (or flax/chia eggs) to the butter mixture a bit at a time, beating well after each addition. Don't rush this step!
- Fold in half the flour, fruit and spices mixture into the butter and egg mixture. Once fully incorporated, fold in the other half.
- Add the brandy.
- Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin, making sure there are no air pockets. Smooth the surface with the back of a spoon and make a slight dip in the centre (this will rise back up during cooking and create a smooth surface for icing the cake).
- Wipe away any smears of cake batter on the baking paper wrapping. They will burn and although they won't affect the cake, they won't smell nice!
- Place the tin on a double layer of newspaper in the lower part of the oven, and bake for 4.5 hours. If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover it with a double layer of baking paper after 2.5 hours. Try to avoid opening the door during cooking too much as this may cause the cake to collapse.
- After 4.5 hours, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, it's done; if it comes out sticky, give it a bit longer.
- Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 1 hour, then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely.
- Once cooled, prick the surface of the cake with a metal skewer and slowly pour 2-3 tbsps brandy over it.
- Repeat brandy 'feeding' every two weeks up until Christmas, or if you don't have that long, repeat at regular intervals 3-4 times.
- Store cake wrapped in greaseproof baking paper in an airtight container until you are ready to decorate for the big day.
Christmas Cake Recipe: Decorating
- Brush cake all over with warmed, strained apricot jam.
- Cover with marzipan and trim off excess.
- Cover with fondant icing and trim off excess.
- Decorate however you like!
Merry Christmas! We hope your cakes are a success and that you enjoy this traditional British Christmas cake recipe!