Christmas Cake, part one; make and mature the cake

Christmas just isn’t very Christmassy without a cake as a centre piece. Last year I made an Almond and Apricot Christmas Cake which went down well with all who tried it, even if my feeble attempt at decorating wasn’t perfect.

This year I have decided to make a more traditional Christmas cake, filled with an assortment of fruits, some almonds, lots of Christmas spice and of course some booze to mellow and mature the cake.

Of course, if you want to make this cake, you really have to get cracking and make it now, or by the weekend so that you can feed it a bit more alcohol before you decorate it; which I will be doing in part two… Hopefully with better results than last year.

Traditional Make & Mature Christmas Cake

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By preparing this cake now you’ll have time to age and feed it, which will keep the cake moist and build up the boozy flavour.

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Preparation time 20 minutes + 30 minutes cooling time
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes
  • Baking time: 2 hours
  • Cuts into 12 to 15 slices


  • 1kg/2lbs 4oz mixed dried fruits (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries or figs.)
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 150ml/¼ pint, Sherry, whiskey, brandy, or rum, plus extra for feeding. (I used spiced rum)
  • 250g butter
  • 200g/7oz light brown sugar
  • 175g/6oz plain flour
  • 100g/4oz ground almonds
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 100g/4oz flaked almonds
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Put the dried fruit, zest, juice, alcohol, butter and 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 allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan assist/GM2. Then line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap another double layer of parchment around the outside, secured with a string.
  3. When the fruit has cooled for half an hour, add the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour.
  4. Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of your oven for 2 hours.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven, and using a skewer poke holes in it and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. leave the cake to completely cool in the tin.

To store, peel off the parchment, then carefully wrap in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp of alcohol every 10-14 days. Don’t feed the cake for the last week before decorating to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.


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