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Traditional Christmas Cake Recipe

Christmas Customs
Traditional Christmas Cake Recipe

By Pauline Weston Thomas for


Traditional Christmas Cake Recipes


Traditional British Christmas Cake Recipe

Following on from the theme of A Child's Christmas in Wales, here is a Christmas cake recipe that I have used for years.  Incidentally, you can use this fruit cake recipe all through the year.

This is a fruit cake recipe that my family has used for wedding and Christmas cake for generations.  If you are making the cake for Christmas, November is a good time to start the process.  This gives you greater organisation time to make sugar craft decorations, feed the Christmas cake, marzipan and then ice it.  If you are short on time, simply buy a good mixture of glace fruits or nuts and glaze with an apricot jam glaze as illustrated here.

I actually like my cake made in early December as it adds to that Xmas feeling of bustle.  I also only ever bake it when family are around the house, as the smell of it baking give everyone a thrill of, 'ooooh what is that wonderful Christmassy smell?'  You all know those smells of orange, spices, cinnamon and alcohol that recall times past.  The modelling paste recipe given on another page also allows you plenty of time to get started on making sugarcraft decorations. If you also want to make a pudding check my Xmas Pudding recipes. You are reading an original Rich Fruit Christmas Cake food article by Pauline Weston Thomas at ©.

Pauline's Christmas Cake Recipe

Pauline's Christmas Cake Recipe

Picture of a Christmas cake decorated with various glace fruits.

1. Ingredients2. Early Preparation

Check recipe for shopping/store cupboard purposes.  Gather together the fruits and soak in alcohol as directed in the method before making the cake.

10 oz currants
6 oz sultanas

3 oz raisins

3 oz dark natural glace cherries

3oz mixed chopped peel - Cut your own or use ready cut

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Grated rind of 1 orange

2 tablespoons of whisky, brandy, rum or sherry

4 eggs - room temperature

6 oz butter - room temperature

6 oz soft brown sugar (or caster sugar if you have none)

3 ½ oz of self raising flour (use all plain if you have no SR flour, this cake is not intended to rise, but be level.)

3 ½ oz of plain flour

2 oz ground almonds

1½ teaspoons of mixed spice (this should contain cloves, cinnamon etc)

1 tablespoon golden syrup or corn syrup

Optional 2oz walnuts or blanched almonds chopped.

Optional 2 oz chopped dried apricots

The quantities in this fruit cake recipe must be baked in a deep Round 8 inch tin or Square 7 inch tin at 140 Deg C.

Prepare these things first.

1. Before you mix up the cake, SOAK the dried fruit and the halved cherries in the alcohol for about 4-8 hours before using it and also remove your 6oz butter and 4 eggs from the fridge to bring them to room temperature about 2 hours before cake making begins.  Sometimes I just put all the fruit in a screw top jar and shake it every day for about a week or two. The soaking helps plump and hydrate the fruit.

2. Heat oven to 140 degrees Celsius or Gas mark 1 or 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Butter your tin type and double line it and butter it again with 2 circles of greaseproof paper and an inner band of paper.

4. Outside the tin add a double band of brown paper that rises 2 inches or so above the tin. Tie with string.

5. Place the tin ready on a flat pizza or other baking sheet – this helps in removing it from the oven.


Christmas Recipe: Basic Method

NEXT - Chop ready the nuts you decide to use or omit if preferred.

Sort out 4 eggs which you can lightly whisk in a jug in preparation.

In a large bowl sift the flour with the mixed spice.  Add the ground almonds and the chopped nuts to that bowl.

Mixing the Cake

In another very large mixing bowl cream the room temperature butter with the sugar – I use an electric whisk.  Next start to use the 4 mixed eggs and add them teaspoon by teaspoon to the sugar and butter, beating well to mix them in between additions.  If you add too much egg too soon and it curdles, then shows separation if that happens just add a tablespoon of flour and mix in.

Now add the golden syrup. Dip a tablespoon into piping hot boiling water and remove the spoon of syrup from the tin and drop it onto the cake mix and stir it in.

Next fold in the spiced flour and ground almonds and nuts.
Now add all the soaked dried fruit.
Stir it all together until mixed well

Spoon the Christmas cake mixture into the tin and smooth the top absolutely flat with a spatula or even your CLEAN dampened hand. This cake should not rise in the middle, but be flat.

Then drop the tin from about 10 inches in the air onto the floor to make sure it has no air bubbles. Replace it onto the pizza support tray.

Baking the cake

I bake this rich fruit cake for 3 hours in my oven using the ordinary section, not the fan section of my electric cooker oven. Fan ovens can over dry cakes of this type which require long slow cooking to help the flavour and colour develop. A piece of greaseproof paper with a 1 inch circle cut from the middle and then placed over the top of cake can help retain moisture and prevent too much crusting.

This same recipe is baked for 4 hours in my sister's oven which is gas fired. So oven timings will vary.  But don’t look at this cake before 3 hours have passed.  I have no idea how long it would take in an Aga so if someone tries it in one please let me know.

Test with a skewer and bake the Xmas cake another 10 minutes before testing again.  A cooked cake is evenly raised and should be moving slightly from the tin sides. The singing hum that emanates from the centre stops. If you have a noisy fan oven turn off your oven for just a moment to listen for the hum.

Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin.  The next day remove the paper wrap and make some skewer holes on the underside.  Pour over 2 tablespoons of alcohol.  I use sherry, brandy or any other good spirit available.  Do this about every 5 days for several weeks.  Each time wrap the cake in double greaseproof paper and then tinfoil and store in a tin or plastic container.

You can either eat the fruit cake immediately as it is or keep feeding the cake for a month once or twice a week until a few days before you are ready to decorate.  Don't feed the cake just before covering or you may create conditions for fermentation if you delay eating the cake for months. You can add almond paste and finally icing or fondant.  Or instead use a simple glazed topping of crystallised fruits or nuts and encase in large ribbon band.  Other fun decorations are modelled marzipan fruits. Warn drivers of the alcohol content of the Christmas cake, but otherwise ENJOY it.

Click here to read my Modelling Paste recipe to make figures and flowers.  Alternatively, decorate the cake exceptionally quickly with glace fruits and an apricot jam glaze made from heating 3 tablespoons of apricot jam with 2 tablespoons of brandy or sherry, as shown in this example.  You could also use a quality selection of various nuts such as brazil nuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts in rows or circles.

Picture of a Christmas cake decorated with various glace fruits.


Christmas Cake Recipe Conclusion

Dust off your Christmas recipe at the end of November.  Alternatively, you can use this fruit cake recipe throughout the year. 

If you want a traditional Xmas cake recipe this is a very reliable cake. If you want a rich fruit recipe this cake is a 5* winner. This summer when I moved house I made this cake recipe as a marzipan and fondant iced housewarming cake.  I had run out of currants, but did not wish to add more food stock to my kitchen before the house move, so I simply substituted more raisins and sultanas for the weight of the currants and it was still a great cake - a huge hit with everybody. The cake was covered in marzipan  and then fondant iced immediately after the following day after baking it. We ate it the next week and it was marvellous.

A cook never regrets spending the money on the best ingredients.  Preparation is the key to your Christmas turning out properly, study the above method carefully for a traditional take.  Final tip, bake the cake when the family is around so they can savour the baking aromas.

You have been reading an original Rich Fruit Christmas Cake food article by Pauline Weston Thomas at ©.

Page Added October 2006. Revised Nov 2011.

See Topics Below for More Ideas on Christmas Traditions, Customs, and Recipes

Christmas Crafts

Seasonal Humour

Christmas Traditions


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