This year’s Christmas Cake

Christmas cake

Last Christmas I gave you my cake...But the very next day, you put on a stone

The nights are drawing in, the campaign for Christmas number one has started (aka The X Factor), and the girls in the office have already organised a Secret Santa. It must be time to make a Christmas cake.

I’ve been making the same Christmas cake every year since 2003, using a recipe from Delicious magazine – here’s last year’s (pic above). It’s incredibly boozy, phenomenally moist and rich, and will have you pinioned to the sofa in a happy, leaden slump within a few minutes of eating it. In my eyes, this makes it the perfect cake. Your mileage may vary.

Anyway. Here’s the recipe as I make it -you’ll need a food processor. I’d advise you not to drive after eating a slab of it.

Christmas Cake Coma

Start at least a day before baking: Put 450g mixed dried fruit, 175 chopped ready-to-eat prunes (the soft type), 150g halved glace cherries and about 100g chopped stem ginger in syrup in a big bowl, along with the zest of a large orange. You can switch some of the dried fruit for dried cranberries, blueberries etc, but usually I can’t be bothered.

Pour over 250ml brandy. Not the really cheap stuff, but it doesn’t have to be Courvoisier. I also tend to bung in a bit of syrup from the stem ginger jar, and also often add about a third of a tub of candied mixed peel.  Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it overnight at least, or even longer. Snaffle boozy teaspoonfuls out of it at regular intervals. Just to check it’s OK, obviously…

christmas cake fruit

Mmmmmm boozy fruit...

Baking day! Find your tin – 8 inch diameter loose-base one for preference. Grease it with butter and line the bottom and sides with greaseproof paper (Delia Smith tutorial here). I do enjoy the ritual of this bit.

Get out the food processor and chuck about a third of the boozy fruit mix into it. Whizz to a thick puree.  Taste it again, just to be sure…

Make the cake mix. Preheat the oven to 150C (gas mark 2). Beat together 175g butter with 175g dark muscovado sugar until it’s “light and fluffy”. Or as light and fluffy as it’s ever going to be. I gave it a good 5 mins in the Kenwood Chef.

Beat in 4 beaten eggs, a bit at a time. If it goes curdley (which it will…) chuck in a bit of flour. Stir in the fruit puree, the remaining boozy fruit and brandy, 1 tablespoon of golden syrup, and 200g self-raising flour. Sometimes I also add a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Sometimes I don’t.

Stir it all up and then bung it into the prepared tin.  Level the top, and try to make a bit of a dip towards the centre.  This is a good trick, and gives you a flatter cake which is easier to ice, as the middle tends to rise more.

Stick the tin in the oven and go and find something else to do for about 2-3 hours, depending on the vagaries of your oven. Use a skewer to test if it’s done from about 2 hrs onwards – there should be no gooey mixture stuck to it if it’s cooked.

Christmas cake

This year's cake - off to stew in a tin for a month or two

Leave the cake to cool in the tin. I usually poke a skewer into it in several places and chuck some more brandy onto it when it’s warm. Wrap it up well in greaseproof paper, then tin foil.

Care and feeding of your cake: Every couple of weeks, unwrap the cake, stab it with a skewer and pour over ashot of brandy. Wrap it back up again and leave it somewhere where the dog can’t get it.

Serving: Ice it however you damn well like, and serve cautiously to non-driving guests.


  1. Emily · November 4, 2010

    Shirely one should save the cautious serving for the driving guests?

    • Kat Arney · November 4, 2010

      I don’t think driving guests should really eat it at all, especially if they’ve had anything else to drink. It’s pretty boozy by the time I’ve stuffed it with brandy πŸ™‚ Did you ever get any of last year’s? It was nom-tastic

      • Emily · November 4, 2010

        Nah wasn’t round yours much last year Xmas time πŸ˜‰
        you can give me some this year, if I haven’t found better places o hang out πŸ˜‰
        you looked at your cocktail diary yet?

      • Kat Arney · November 4, 2010

        Yes, will look in the diary now and FB you – just juggling some dates like a juggly juggler

  2. Peter Demain · November 4, 2010

    What a neat post. I’m moving house at the end of the month and have some brandy going spare. In about a month I’ll have a go at cooking it this since it’s the kind of fondly-remembered cake I haven’t consumed anything close to in years.

    Must say that this blog with its whimsically cultured entries and detailed dessert cookery screeds dispels my idiot prejudice that all blogs are boring conceit.

    If the cake doesn’t end up looking an embarassment I’ll post a pic of it somewhere with props to you.

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

    • Kat Arney · November 4, 2010

      To be fair, it’s still a fairly boring conceit πŸ™‚

      Good luck with the cake and the move!

  3. Susieqtpies · November 11, 2010

    Yum! Come link up in my Christmas Link up!!!

  4. jackie · November 14, 2013

    got mine in oven at the moment,im a bit scared as it looked like it needed more flour.but I stuck with the recipe so im keeping my fingers crossed.also didn’t say what part of oven to put the tin ,I got mine on bottom shelf .

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