How to bake a Christmas Cake: Traditional Fruit Cake Recipe

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You can’t beat a traditional Christmas cake – make it a few weeks in advance if you can, to reduce stress nearer the big day and allow the flavours to develop. The kids will love decorating it too!

Here’s how to bake a traditional Christmas fruit cake – a classic recipe that the whole family will enjoy…


  • 500g dried mixed fruit
  • 100g glace cherries, halved
  • 85ml cooking brandy
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 175g butter
  • 175g dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp black treacle
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 60g chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans (optional)


For the Decorating:

  • 1 tbsp sieved apricot jam
  • 400g ready-made ready-rolled marzipan
  • Ready made sheet of white icing (or make your own)
  • Any extra decorations you wish to add



The day before baking: Remove the zest from the orange and lemon with a fine grater, and squeeze out the juices. Put all of the zest and juice in a bowl with the mixed dried fruit and glace cherries, add the brandy, cover and soak overnight.

1. Preheat your oven to 150°C (130°C fan/300°F/Gas Mark 3).

2. Grease a 20cm (8-inch) round or 18cm (7-inch) square cake tin and line it with baking paper, extending the paper above the rim of the tin.

3. With an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar and black treacle until fluffy.

4. Add the eggs slowly, beating each one in thoroughly before adding the next one.

5. In separate bowl, combine the flour, ground almonds and mixed spice – stir to mix thoroughly.

6. Then gently fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, until well combined.

7. Finally, add the soaked fruit and all of the juices, plus the nuts if you’re using them. Fold the mixture gently together until the ingredients are well mixed.

8. Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin and smooth the top. Place the tin in the centre of the oven, and bake for 2 hrs or until golden brown and springy to the touch – use a skewer to test the cake if the cake is ready. (If there’s still wet mixture, return it to the oven for another 20-30 mins / until it comes out clean.)

9. Once the cake is out of the oven, let it cool in the tin for about an hour.

10. Then, remove the cake from the tin, but keep the baking paper on. Wrap the cake in foil and store it in an airtight container. Allow it to mature for a few weeks (up to two months) – you can pierce the cake all over with a skewer and feed it with an extra spoonful of brandy every now and then if you want to.

11. When you’re ready to decorate, warm the apricot jam to soften it, and brush it over the whole cake.

12. Roll out marzipan and cover the cake entirely, smoothing it down for a neat finish.

13. Finally cover the cake with a sheet of ready rolled icing – and get the kids involved adding any extra decorations you’d like.


TIP: A homemade fruit cake makes a great, thoughtful centrepiece for a DIY hamper – you could make mini-ones to give as gifts too! Check out my DIY hamper article for lots of hamper ideas.


Fancy some more homemade gift ideas?

Read: Ideas for Christmas gifts without spending money – a free homemade Christmas.


Want some child-friendly Christmas recipes?

Check out: Christmas baking for kids: Five delicious simple recipes.

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