make & mature a Christmas cake

Bake this festive fruit cake in advance of Christmas and feed it regularly with rum, brandy or whisky to build the flavour and keep it moist.

2021 cake under low kelvin light


  • Prep Time: 25 min
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Other: 30 min cooling fruit mix
  • Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
  • Servings: 12 – 15


  • 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding
  • 250g pack butter, softened
  • 200g light soft brown sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 100g ground almond
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 100g flaked almonds
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • Put 1kg mixed dried fruit, the zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon, 150ml brandy or other alcohol, 250g softened butter and 200g light, soft brown sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat.
  • Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.
  • Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.
  • Add 175g plain flour, 100g ground almonds, ½ tsp baking powder, 2 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground cloves, 100g flaked almonds, 4 large eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour.
  • Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.
  • Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
  • To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it.
  • Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.


  • None


  • 2021-11-07 – First attempt. All seems to have gone well. Used packing paper as the outside covering of the tin.
  • 2021-12-23 – Made marzipan to cover the cake and a few Christmas tree marzipan cutouts to liven it up a bit. Took it to my sister’s on Christmas Eve and let people give it a try. It was exactly like I expected although I guess most people here just don’t have a taste for fruit cake any more. It does have a bit of a bad name in the US. The other guests gave it a try but only 1 or 2 seemed to think it was anything special. Fortunately I can freeze it so will probably take a couple quarters and put them away for later in the winter after Christmas at the farm is over. Next year I may try to make a few smaller cakes rather than one big one so they save a bit better.