Christmas cake

Making your own Christmas cake is the perfect way to spend a wet Sunday afternoon
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print
Christmas cake
Christmas cake

However upmarket you go, no shop-bought Christmas cake rivals the one you make at home says Jo Rees

The idea for this cake has its origins in a Delia recipe for a last-minute cake but has metamorphosed over the years to become its own unique version. Because it’s got mincemeat in it (essentially already pre-soaked/matured fruit) you can actually make it pretty late on in December and still have it ready for Boxing Day tea, but you can also bake it weeks in advance and feed it with brandy or rum in the conventional way.

If you’re not used to making your own Christmas cake, you might be surprised to learn you can – to a remarkable degree – switch up the ingredients to turn it into your own bespoke bake.

The type of fruits, nuts, sugar and booze are all pretty interchangeable for other things of the same type and, as long as the basic ratios stay the same, you won’t go wrong.

This cake flirts with convention by featuring candied pineapple, dates, toasted coconut, rum and lots of juicy Chilean flame raisins. Or follow the more regular Christmas cake route and use mixed fruit, candied peel, glacé cherries and almonds.

On the booze front, brandy is traditional but we’ve plumped for spiced rum as it’s good with the pineapple, coconut and the caramel note in the dates.

Whichever version of Christmas cake you conjure this season, aim to combine flavours you favour with others that are natural pairings. For example, if you use brandy, consider dried cherries as an addition to the fruit mix.

Similarly, you can make your cake lighter or darker in colour and flavour depending on the type of sugar used. This recipe contains light muscovado but if you prefer a darker, more treacly cake, dark muscovado is your go-to.

Oven temp    170°c / gas 3

Supported by

food newsletter banner
  • You will need
  • Method

For the fruit

  • Luxury mincemeat 400g jar
  • Dates 100g (look for juicy ones)
  • Glacé cherries 100g, washed and halved
  • Glacé or candied pineapple 50g
  • Stem ginger in syrup 3 pieces, washed and chopped
  • Flame raisins 175g
  • Toasted coconut 25g
  • Mixed spice 3 tsp
  • Cinnamon 2 tsp
  • Orange 1 large, zest of
  • Lemon 1, zest of
  • Spiced rum 100ml

For the cake

  • Light muscovado sugar 150g
  • Salted butter 150g, room temperature
  • Eggs 3 large, beaten, at room temperature
  • Self-raising flour 225g
  • Baking powder 3 tsp
  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Macadamia nuts 50g, chopped into chunky pieces
  • Walnuts 50g, halved
  1. For the fruit: the night before you’re going to make the cake, mix the mincemeat, dates, cherries, pineapple, ginger, raisins, coconut, spices, zests and rum in a large bowl and cover. Leave the fruit to absorb the booze and plump up overnight.
  2. For the cake: preheat the oven to 170°c / gas 3. Prepare a round 10 inch springform tin by lining the bottom and sides with greased baking paper (raise the paper a little above the edge of the side of the tin to protect the cake).
  3. Combine the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl and whisk until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and combine well.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt, combine and gently fold into the mix. Add the nuts and soaked fruit and stir gently. Try to manipulate the cake as little as possible at this stage to avoid it being overworked and tough.
  5. Gently spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin, levelling the top with the back of the spoon.
  6. Take a double square of baking parchment with a 50p-sized hole in the centre and balance on top of the wall of parchment that rises around the sides of the tin. It will protect the cake from burning but you don’t want it to touch the cake mixture.
  7. Gently place the tin on the centre shelf of the oven. Set a timer for 2 hours, but check it at 1 hour 45 minutes to see how it’s doing (don’t open the oven door prior to that). You’ll know when the cake is done because you’ll smell it first. It will feel slightly springy in the centre when you gently touch it, and be just coming away from the sides of the tin. Confirm it’s cooked by inserting a clean skewer into the centre which will come out clean and hot when the cake is done. If it needs a little longer, put it back in the oven but keep checking as you don’t want to leave it in a moment longer than necessary, or it will be dry.
  8. When the cake is cooked, take it out of the oven and place it on a wire rack in the tin, then leave it to sit for an hour. After an hour, gently remove the cake from the tin, carefully unwrap and let it thoroughly cool on a wire rack.
  9. When the cake is cold, wrap it in fresh greaseproof paper and either store in an airtight tin or wrap further in tin foil or wax wraps. Despite it being a last-minute cake it will keep for weeks. If you’ve got time before you need the cake, you can still feed it with a couple of teaspoons of your chosen alcohol every few days (use a skewer to make holes in the cake first to let the booze soak in).
  10. The world is your oyster when it comes to decoration: dried fruits and a warm apricot jam glaze is quick and easy or go the whole shebang with marzipan and icing, and let your creativity fly.

You will need

For the fruit

  • Luxury mincemeat 400g jar
  • Dates 100g (look for juicy ones)
  • Glacé cherries 100g, washed and halved
  • Glacé or candied pineapple 50g
  • Stem ginger in syrup 3 pieces, washed and chopped
  • Flame raisins 175g
  • Toasted coconut 25g
  • Mixed spice 3 tsp
  • Cinnamon 2 tsp
  • Orange 1 large, zest of
  • Lemon 1, zest of
  • Spiced rum 100ml

For the cake

  • Light muscovado sugar 150g
  • Salted butter 150g, room temperature
  • Eggs 3 large, beaten, at room temperature
  • Self-raising flour 225g
  • Baking powder 3 tsp
  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Macadamia nuts 50g, chopped into chunky pieces
  • Walnuts 50g, halved

Method

  1. For the fruit: the night before you’re going to make the cake, mix the mincemeat, dates, cherries, pineapple, ginger, raisins, coconut, spices, zests and rum in a large bowl and cover. Leave the fruit to absorb the booze and plump up overnight.
  2. For the cake: preheat the oven to 170°c / gas 3. Prepare a round 10 inch springform tin by lining the bottom and sides with greased baking paper (raise the paper a little above the edge of the side of the tin to protect the cake).
  3. Combine the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl and whisk until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and combine well.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt, combine and gently fold into the mix. Add the nuts and soaked fruit and stir gently. Try to manipulate the cake as little as possible at this stage to avoid it being overworked and tough.
  5. Gently spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin, levelling the top with the back of the spoon.
  6. Take a double square of baking parchment with a 50p-sized hole in the centre and balance on top of the wall of parchment that rises around the sides of the tin. It will protect the cake from burning but you don’t want it to touch the cake mixture.
  7. Gently place the tin on the centre shelf of the oven. Set a timer for 2 hours, but check it at 1 hour 45 minutes to see how it’s doing (don’t open the oven door prior to that). You’ll know when the cake is done because you’ll smell it first. It will feel slightly springy in the centre when you gently touch it, and be just coming away from the sides of the tin. Confirm it’s cooked by inserting a clean skewer into the centre which will come out clean and hot when the cake is done. If it needs a little longer, put it back in the oven but keep checking as you don’t want to leave it in a moment longer than necessary, or it will be dry.
  8. When the cake is cooked, take it out of the oven and place it on a wire rack in the tin, then leave it to sit for an hour. After an hour, gently remove the cake from the tin, carefully unwrap and let it thoroughly cool on a wire rack.
  9. When the cake is cold, wrap it in fresh greaseproof paper and either store in an airtight tin or wrap further in tin foil or wax wraps. Despite it being a last-minute cake it will keep for weeks. If you’ve got time before you need the cake, you can still feed it with a couple of teaspoons of your chosen alcohol every few days (use a skewer to make holes in the cake first to let the booze soak in).
  10. The world is your oyster when it comes to decoration: dried fruits and a warm apricot jam glaze is quick and easy or go the whole shebang with marzipan and icing, and let your creativity fly.
Supported by
Indy Coffee Box
food newsletter banner
Supported by
Indy Coffee Box

Supported by

Indy Coffee Box

recipes with similar ingredients

Supported by
Driftwood Spas Brewery

Supported by

food magazine subscription
Supported by
food newsletter banner

Supported by

food newsletter banner