Christmas cake

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Prep time:

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Serves: 6

By RiverfordVeg



  • 2 pinches salt

  • 250g unsalted butter diced, plus a little extra for greasing

  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp mixed spice

  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1 orange zested

  • 1 lemon zested

  • 1 tbsp black treacle or molasses

  • 100g pitted date roughly chopped

  • 4 tbsp brandy plus extra for drizzling

  • 100g glace cherries (try to get the darker, naturally coloured cherries rather than the plastic looking light red ones if you can)

  • 100g mixed candied peel

  • 75g flaked or blanched whole almonds roughly chopped

  • 400g currants

  • 4 large eggs

  • 250g light brown soft sugar

  • 200g sultanas

  • 250g plain flour

  • 200g raisins


  1. Day 1, before you start; you will need a 20cm (8 inch) round cake tin or an 18cm (7 inch) square tin. The cake will cook to about 6-7cm deep, so check your tin is deep enough to hold it, sometimes the average Victoria sponge tin isn’t deep enough.
  2. Put the dried fruit, cherries and mixed peel in a large bowl. Pour over the brandy and stir together. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to soak overnight.
  3. The next day, preheat the oven to 140C or if you are using a fan oven, reduce the temperature to 120C or it will cook too quickly and burn.
  4. Prepare your cake tin. Line the outside of the tin with 3 layers of greaseproof paper tied with string to protect it. Use a piece of kitchen paper to grease the inside of the tin with a little butter. Cut a round piece of greaseproof paper to line the base of the tin, then a long strip to line the side, use a little greasing of butter to stick a couple of strips together if you need to. Cut a round double layer of paper, enough to cover the top of the cake. Cut a small hole in the middle of it to let the steam escape.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy or use an electric hand whisk if you have one, it’s easier. Lightly beat the eggs in a small jug or bowl. Gradually add them to the creamed butter and sugar. Don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled.
  6. Add the flour, salt, spices, nuts, zests and treacle. Stir to combine, then add the brandy-soaked fruit, together with any liquid in the bowl and stir together. Try not to over-mix it. Transfer the mixture to the tin.
  7. Level it off and cover with the double piece of greaseproof paper.
  8. Bake on a low oven shelf for about 4 hours, depending on your oven. Start testing it after 3.5 hours, then at intervals, by inserting a skewer or cocktail stick into the middle of the cake and seeing if it comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Wrap the base and sides of the cake in foil and place in an airtight container.
  11. Prick the top of the cake several times with a skewer or cocktail stick. Drizzle over a little brandy, about 1 tablespoon. Seal the container.
  12. Unwrap and feed the cake once a week for 3 weeks with a drizzle of brandy, about 1 tablespoon each time.

Handy Hint

Now is a great time to start on your Christmas cake and let it mature in a corner of your kitchen during the run up to Christmas Day. If making this recipe closer to Christmas simply follow the instructions below, but feeding the cake with a tablespoon of brandy once every 3-4 days instead.

Additional Information

  • Cake/Dessert

  • Christmas

  • Make Ahead

  • cake

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  • RiverfordVeg 30/11/12 16:47

    Now is a great time to start on your Christmas cake and let it mature in a corner of your kitchen during the run up to Christmas Day. Riverford Cook, Kirsty Hale, has created her own version of a long-standing family recipe which is really moist (her Mum has been known to make it in a festive panic the day before Christmas Eve, adding a glug more brandy!).