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

Christmas Cake Recipe: Ingredients


  • Apricot jam
  • Marzipan
  • Fondant icing

Christmas cake

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 fruit cake

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!

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