How to Make a Christmas Cake

Feeling traditional? Bake a Christmas cake, sumptuous with plump dried fruit and fragrant with the faint hint of your favorite Christmas spirit.
Christmas Cake

Never baked a Christmas cake before? This easy-to-follow recipe will give you a cake that tastes rich and fruitful, with a mature, well-rounded flavor. Serve this proudly at your holiday gathering, then relax as the compliments roll in.

PointsPlus® value: 4 (per serving)
Serves: 32 (makes 1 square 20cm (8in) cake)
Preparation time: 45 minutes (for the cake) plus standing
Cooking time: 2½ hours

Christmas Cake Ingredients
14 oz raisins
14 oz sultanas
7 oz currants
3 1/2 oz candied cherries, halved
5 fl. oz brandy or dark rum + 3 tbsp
6 oz margarine
6 oz dark muscovado sugar
4 medium eggs, beaten
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 small orange
10 1/2 oz plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 heaped tsp ground mixed spice

raisins currants and cherries
Steps 1 & 2
The day before baking the cake, put the raisins, currants and cherries into a large bowl. Add 5 fl. oz brandy or rum, stir well and cover. Soak overnight.

Next day, grease and line an 8" square cake tin with double thickness greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
margarine and sugar
Step 3
In a very large bowl, beat together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, then add the orange zest and juice (the mixture may curdle, but don't worry).
flour salt and spice
Step 4
Sift the flour, salt and spice together. Fold into the creamed mixture, using a metal spoon, then stir in the dried fruit, mixing thoroughly. Turn into the prepared tin and level the surface.
Baked christmas cake
Step 5
Bake for approximately 2 1/2 hours. Check after 2 hours, covering the surface with double thickness greaseproof paper to prevent it from getting too brown. To test if the cake is cooked, pierce the cake with a fine skewer — if it comes out clean the cake is cooked. If not, cook for a little longer. Cool in the tin. Spoon the extra 3 tbsp brandy or rum over the surface, letting it soak in. Wrap the cake in greaseproof paper, then store in an airtight tin for up to 3 months.
Cook's tips

  • Avoid old ingredients that have been stashed away in the recesses of your kitchen cupboards from holidays past — they are past it themselves, and will add nothing to the flavour of your finished cake. So out with the mixed spice that's more than a year old, and in with the new.

  • Make your cake in plenty of time for Christmas, remembering that it will taste better if you allow plenty of time for it to mature.

  • Pick over the dried fruit after soaking to remove any stalks.

  • Try to avoid opening the oven door for the first two hours of baking — the cake requires a low, steady heat.

  • Test the cake with a fine skewer to check that it is cooked — it should come out clean and should not be sticky. Do this in the middle of the cake and check in a couple of other places, as moist fruit can also leave a sticky residue on the skewer.

  • Spoon 2 tablespoons of brandy or rum over the surface of the cake every 2 - 3 weeks to give an even more delicious flavour. Don't pierce the cooked cake before spooning the brandy or rum over it though — just let the alcohol soak through the surface of the cake.

  • To decorate the cake, simply spray small leaves and pine cones with silver and gold spray, then leave them to dry thoroughly. Use them to decorate the cake with narrow and wide ribbon for a simple yet very effective result.

  • This rich fruit cake is equally good at Easter or for a wedding or celebration cake. Now you have the know-how, you'll soon be baking them for family and friends!

Having your cake and keeping it
The dried fruit and alcohol content of your cake means that it will keep for weeks in an airtight tin, so don't feel pressurised into eating it all between Christmas and New Year!
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