Boozy Fruit for your Christmas Cake

Boozy Fruit for your Christmas Cake

Those of you that were already with me this time last year will know that now is the time to start on your Christmas Cake (yes, really!).  Soaking the fruit for a good six weeks before we even bake the cake.  If you’re Christmas crazy like I am you won’t mind one bit starting early.

Forgive the duplicate post, but a year on we have 4,500+ more Pink Whiskers baking along and I really don’t want anyone to miss out, plus there are a couple of extras, making your Christmas cake and boozy fruit even better!

The quantities will make you one 8″ round cake, if you make cakes for the whole family multiply the ingredients by the number of cakes you’re making.  See my ‘making boozy fruit en masse’ notes at the end, and, if you’d like you can read the original post here.



200g raisins

200g sultanas

175g dried figs, chopped

100g dates, chopped

55g mixed peel

You should have a total of 730g dried fruit – the above is just a suggestion, if you’d like to add something else if then go for it – cherries, craisins etc.  Similarly if you don’t like something change it for something you do!


55g caster sugar

55ml water

170ml brandy

Zest of 1 orange

1 cinnamon stick


Place your chosen dried fruit into a large bowl with the grated zest of the orange and the cinnamon stick.

Add the sugar and water to a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is completely dissolved but don’t let it boil.  The syrup should be clear.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Add the warm sugar syrup to the brandy and stir.  Pour over the fruits in the bowl and give it a good mix.

Now transfer this to an airtight storage container (a 1.5l container is big enough).

For a week you will need to stir it every day, then for a further five weeks give it a mix up just once a week.  Believe me it’s worth it just for the smell of Christmas you get every time you open the lid!

Six weeks soaking and you will have the most fab fruit to make your Christmas cake with, I’ll be back of course with a reminder on how to do it but the recipe is here if you want a sneak preview.

So now to the tips bit:

  • If you’ve already set your boozy fruit in motion from last years recipe add in the grated zest of an orange and a cinnamon stick for an even lovelier tasting cake.
  • Store ideally in a kitchen cupboard or on the worktop as long as it’s not in direct sunlight.  It doesn’t need to be in the fridge, just somewhere at room temperature.
  • If you’re not keen on Brandy try it with your preferred alternative e.g rum
  • If you’re running late – a weeks fruit soaking is better than none and you will still come out with a lovely cake, the longer the soak the better the flavour.
  • If you prefer to make a cake that’s alcohol free make a syrup by heating 200g caster sugar with 200ml water, once dissolved pour over the fruit and then soak and stir as above.

I make Christmas cakes for the school Christmas fair so make them in bulk,  here a few pics of making boozy fruit on masse! (a 10x quantity)

I’m going to need a big container!

In goes the fruit, added a few craisins as I ran short on the fig front – actually the colour of them looks lovely.  Grated the zest in from 10 oranges whilst sat on the kitchen floor.  I couldn’t lift it back onto the worktop.

Now proceedings halted briefly when I had to run out for another bottle of brandy because I didn’t have enough….

Soak in, big stir, sore arms…

Lid on and it’s now sitting the in the hallway to greet visitors/delivery men with a good waft of boozy fruit when they come a calling!

Sensibly I have weighed one single batch to I don’t have to use the wheelbarrow to make the fruit into a cake.  One single fruit portion for 1 x 8″ christmas cake recipe weighs 1020g which I’ll scoop out with a jug when the time comes (strange, it’s not like me to be sensible and think ahead!)

Boozy Fruit for your Christmas Cake

Boozy Fruit for your Christmas Cake

Ruth Clemens, Baker Extraordinaire



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117 Responses to Boozy Fruit for your Christmas Cake

  1. Ohh Ruth I was so excited to see your post- I LOVE the idea of getting ready for Christmas in September (heck it is my favourite time of year too). This recipe is most definitely getting bookmarked, thank you!

  2. Cookie jar says:

    Made your cake last year, It was fantastic. Plan on soaking the fruit for this years cake as soon as I do the shopping.

  3. You have just reminded me that I have some fruit in a tupperware box that’s been stewing for 6 months. Best investigate it. Love a Christmas post by the way! Happy Christmas in advance. Love the new blog layout. xx

  4. Kim McBirnie says:

    Can I just ask as I didn’t make a christmas cake last year,(and excuse me if this is a really dim question) I like nuts in my cake, so do I add them to the fruit now or put them in later. I suspect I am asking a really daft question now I think on it…

  5. Rose says:

    Oh my goodness 6 weeks soaking!!! I have a different recipe and soak for 1-2 weeks (thought that was a long time!)

    Glad to see someone else does not use currants in their cake

  6. Roslyn says:

    Hi Ruth,I’m crazy for cranberries at the moment so think I’ll substitute some of them in. Some Australian macadamias too, added after the soak as you suggest. With it warming up now here down under, would refrigerating the soak be in order ?

    • Sounds lovely! No – you don’t need to put it in the fridge, just room temp to allow it to infuse nicely! x

      • Roslyn says:

        Well okay. its done. My boozy fruit is done, thanks to you and your fine instructions I’ve finally tacked it and so far so good. Another question: I am making a double mixture; an 8″ cake for us and two 4″ cakes for family gifts. Should I use two 4″ square tins or two 4 ” round tins? I’m using an 8″ round tin for the big cake so hoping you can help please. Thank you for your approachability and your wonderful expertise. With my best wishes, Ros

      • Roslyn says:

        Well, must say that thanks to you and your helpful tips I have just produced nine (an extra one just appeared) and two large CHristmas cakes that went down a treat here in australia. The six week boost soak is a must and my cranberry/nut combo (omitting glade cherries and peel as I don’t like them) was a real success. I got more than one kiss from my recipients for my trouble, so owe you big time. I must say that I prefer the smaller cakes in tms of moistness and flavor, don’t know why but they just taste better. I will definitely keep reading your blog and will endeavor to keep up as best I can. Happy 2012 !

  7. Lisa Shannon says:

    Aaaahh!! now I started to soak my fruit on the 17th September as that was when “we” started last year and the cake was wonderful. However I panicked when I saw the recipe because I didn’t do the orange and cinnamon stick thing, but I see this is s new addition. I am just going to pop them in now….. it will be lovely. Thanks as always Ruth xx

  8. Andrew West says:

    Was really looking forward to your recipe, tried it last year and wondered if you’d tweak it as I’ve already got orders from the family to make them again. I think I’ve started a trend which will see me making it every year. It was just so nice to try it last year with all the months of effort coming together for Christmas. Carry on your great work and love the new website! I am biased though.

  9. Caz says:

    Hi Ruth, if you’re not a fan of booze what alternative would you suggest and should I still start soaking the fruit this early?

  10. alison says:

    Hey Ruth – I will be soaking along with you! Got lots of orders for my Christmas cakes this year as last years was so gorgeous! Just need to get my holiday out of the way and then I will soak!
    Alison xx

  11. Minnie says:

    Wow! I love the new look of the website, it looks so clean and polished but cute at the same time – perfect!

  12. Emma says:

    Ahhhh! Mine’s been on the go for a fortnight now. I’ll add the orange and cinnamon tomorrow. My fruit must have been very thirsty because there isn’t any liquid left. Does that sound right? It’s lovely and sticky and plump though.

  13. Janice says:

    Oh my goodness, that’s a huge cauldron of brandy soaked fruit!

  14. Clare House says:

    Hi Ruth, Thanks for posting this again. The cake was great last Christmas…so great that I used the same recipe for my Gran’s 90th Birthday Cake and am now contemplating the recipe for my own wedding cake! Love the new website. Clare xC

  15. Gilly says:

    Hi Ruth I followed your post last year and the Christmas cake was amazing – I loved the smell of the fruit when I gave it it’s weekly stir! I will definitely get started on this and plan on making a few extra cakes to pass on to family and friends
    Love your blog – especially the ‘keeping it real’ instructions x

  16. Liz says:

    I made your boozy fruit cake last year, and it was (is) delicious – there is about a slice still left as I didn’t want to eat it all up! It was my first Christmas cake, and I used Amaretto as well as brandy, as I didn’t have enough – scrummy!
    Got to start on this year’s one…

  17. Rosie says:

    My- what a quick year! Will get started on this at the weekend. Thanks for the reminder.
    Love the new web site – although when it first came up I thought the raspberry macaroons were teeth!!!!

  18. Richard says:

    I’m finally attempting my first Christmas cake this year after wimping out every previous year! Your recipes haven’t failed me yet so wish me luck! One question though (albeit a very silly one…), the cinnamon stick you put in the fruit, when it’s time to make the cake do you fish it out or will it melt/dissolve into the mix? p.s. love the new look blog!

  19. Rachel says:

    I’m going to be making some Christmas cakes this year (probably in bulk, god help me) as I’m trying to get my name out there slowly as a baker. Hopefully you won’t mind me using your recipe for this…
    The question… do you sell your cakes at the fair? And if you do, how do you go about pricing them?

    • No that’s fine Rachel – the recipes are here to be used! Yes the cakes are sold at the fair, I don’t do the pricing, I leave that to the others – they will charge more than I would. For a decorated 8″ type cake they price at about £15.00 which may seem cheap but it is a school fair after all and I do it for fun! x

  20. Tara says:

    Oh my days – the thought of all that fruit and baking 10 Christmas cakes is terrifying! I usually only soak my fruit overnight in a brandy and orange mix though so will try your version.

  21. Judi Delaney says:

    Loving the new look Ruth and huge congratulations on your listing in The Independent’s Top 50 Food Websites – that’s some achievement when you think how many sites there are! Off to make a shopping list for that Christmas cake I think……..

  22. sue says:

    Okay – my boozy fruit is underway & I’m excited to try your recipe. I love your recipes as they are practical, and clear – and they work! It’s great to follow instructions from someone who cooks for a family.

  23. Jenny Manley says:

    I love your site Ruth, did watch the Bake off show, when it came here to New Zealand. I would like to print some of your recipes, is there a printable version available, expecially to boozy christmas cake

  24. Linda B says:

    Oh yes! For anyone contemplating but not quite convinced yet, this is definitely DEFINITELY worth it. I made it last year and it was the best cake I’ve ever made or eaten. Will be starting mine tomorrow (once I’ve been and got the fruit). Thanks again Ruth for another year of wonderful pink recipes 🙂

  25. Beth says:

    First time making your Christmas Cake and can’t wait to try it. The smell in my kitchen is very festive!

  26. Leona says:


    This recipe sounds fab. Going to make my first cake this year 🙂 What Brandy did you use and would it be ok to swap some of the fruit for Glacier Cherries?


  27. Francesca Lobban says:

    I have never made a christmas cake/fruit cake before, I have always been so intimidated by recipes that I have seen. However, having seen your clear and thorough step-by-step guide, I thought I would give it go this year. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe and tips. I hope mine turns out ok. Bet your house smelt amazing when you were making your masses!! Congratulations on achieving your listing in The Independent’s Top 50 Food Websites. What an achievement. Have a lovely weekend x

  28. emma says:

    yum! have just the minute finished my boozy fruit mixture, can’t wait to eat the finished product 🙂

  29. Alexandra says:

    dear Ruth,
    Gosh, seeing this post up reminds me I have been following you for little over a year now…. without ever making a comment. Time to change that 🙂
    Just wanted to let you know it has been and still is such a joy to bake ‘with’ you. Your enthusiasm, dedication, and fun factor are such a golden combination. Thank you for introducing so many lovely bakes to us and for helping us to bake them ourselves… many of your recipes have made it to the continent 🙂
    big hugs,
    the Netherlands

  30. Kiara says:

    Hello, I would just like to add that I made this cake (x5) last year and it was a total total total success, I have repeat orders this year 🙂

    Thanks Ruth!

  31. Leona says:

    Well that’s me just finished making 2 lots of boozy fruit mixture!! 😀 Smells wonderful already. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful step by step recipe!

  32. Joanne says:

    I’m just getting into baking and am hoping to use Ruth’s 12 Days of Christmas to make Homemade Hampers for my family and friends this year. Just made up my first two batches of Boozy Fruit and they smell divine! Can’t wait to crack on with the rest of the goodies now!

  33. Charlene says:

    found a jar of fruit in the back of the larder from last year!!! Can it still used or would it be better in the bin?

    • Have a good look at it – if its in any way foamy or smells beery/yeasty then its started to ferment and needs to go in the bin. That said you should be able to keep it for a year if its been kept somewhere cool and dark. If youre in doubt please dont use it – I don’t want to be responsible for poisoning you! xx

  34. Charlene says:

    Just checked the fruit. It was kept in an airtight glass jar at the back of the cupboard and it smells and looks perfect! Now that’s one job ticked off the list.

  35. Pingback: The fruit is soaking! « Orange Victoria's Blog

  36. Pingback: Taste of Kiwi: Blog of Author Shelley Munro » Blog Archive » Preparing the Christmas Cake

  37. Louise says:

    Hi Ruth, doing your Chris cake, what do you think to cocoa instead of spice plus a bit, syrup instead of treacle and Tia Maria instead of rum?? I like fruit, just not the cake, I’d like to try a twist, do you think it would work?? Love your site, trying the choc biscuits for charity tomorrow. X

    • Hi Louise – that’s what I like to hear – ingenious baking ideas! Definite yes to the syrup and Tia Maria – not sure about the cocoa as I think the flavour may be lost but there’s only one way to know – bake it and see (and come back and let us all know!) xx

      • Louise says:

        Thanks Ruth. I’ll certainly let you know how it goes. I made your biscuits but my little boy can’t eat dairy so I had to make it with pure margarine. The mix wouldn’t set enough to cut out, so I piped the mix instead and they looked cute and tasted gorgeous. Any dairy free recipes greatly appreciated. So chuffed you replied, thanks xx

  38. Caroline Pearce says:

    I’ve been looking all over the internet and books to find a christmas cake recipie for my finacé. He’s very particular about what ingredients he wants in it as he doesn’t like nuts and things. Aparently his Grandfather used to make the best one and as this is our first christmas together with our new baby I would love to make it extra special.

    It might sound silly but would the cake be the same if I was to miss out some ingredients? Or are there alternatives to the almonds, dates and figs?

    • No fruit wise you can miss out the ingredients you don’t like but you do need to make up with the same weight with a different fruit – it can be as simple as purely sultanas and raisins x

  39. Maxine says:

    Hi, I remembered reading this post a few weeks ago, but today I was asked about making Christmas Pudding, would you recommend soaking the fruit for weeks to make a christmas pudding or is it a completely different kettle of fish when making Christmas pudding rather than Christmas cake?

    • No its doesn’t seem to give any benefit – the steaming of the pud intensifies the flavours and softens the fruit. You can by all means but when I tried it I couldn’t tell the difference – taste testing was fun in July though! x

  40. Luisa says:

    This is the first Christmas cake I have ever made despite making lots of cakes and biscuits before. My fruit has been soaking for two weeks now and it smells wonderful! Can’t wait for Christmas now to try the finished product! thank you x

  41. Sally says:

    Hi Ruth
    Have I left it too late to start soaking my fruit?

  42. Delghted you are posting this cake again this year – I still have my fruit soaking from last year!!!

  43. Anita says:

    I am going to try it for the first time, it isn’t something Dutch so i am curious if i will manage all the decorating stuff.

  44. Anita says:

    I was already reading the cake recipe from last year. It contains mixed cake spices. i do live in the Netherlands and i do want to know wich spices it contains, Is it à mixture with cinamon, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cardemom? This kind of mixture we use in Holland for our speculoos or is it something completely different.?

  45. Suzy NZ says:

    Christmas in NZ isn’t very traditional but I think that Christmas cake might just be worth the effort – and can still be eaten in comfort in summer. I will get soaking my fruit now! Better late than never 🙂 Love the website x

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  47. This is old Cowboy from Texas. Could you or someone please email me the measurements for the cake conversion from UK to US.

    Thanks y’all.

  48. Simone says:

    I love the idea of soaking the fruit for 6 weeks. However i live in Australia where it is beginning to get humid. Is it alright to store the soaked fruit in the fridge?

  49. Pen says:

    Just popped boozy fruit into cake mix three times over! Smells amazing, and seems to mix well when licked with painkillers for broken wrist. The bowl was licked, not the painkillers


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  51. Cath says:

    Hi there, I have about 1.2kg of soaked fruit that I intend to leave for a couple of weeks. I’d like to make two smaller cakes if possible out of the mix – could you advise me as to whether this is doable and what size tins will I need (either round or square)
    Kind Regards

    • Depending on whether you did 1x quantity of boozy fruit or more 1.5x etc I’m not sure? You will need to make up the same multiplied quantity of the basic cake mix too. 1 x mix makes 1 x 8″ cake or 2 x 4 – 6″ (round) cakes depending on how deep you want them. If I’m making smaller cakes I tend to make up the whole lot into cake mixture and then divide it between a selection of tins.

  52. Emma says:

    Arrgh! I want to make a Christmas cake, but it’s just 8 days away. Am I too late? Should I soak fruit for a couple of days, or just cut to the cake making??

  53. Lynn Shepherd says:

    Hiya I soaked my fruit end Nov, but never got round to making the cake (bad I know!) so I have a batch of boozy fruit (I used Jack Daniels-smells divine!) will this keep to next year or do I need to use it? Thanks x

    • If it was me I would save it until next year but it needs to be somewhere cool and out of the way. You’ll need to check that its not fermenting before you use it, and that should be clear my the smell. Although. there really is enough booze in there to stop that happening! x

  54. Sara says:

    If I decide to add nuts, I know from a previous comment that I should add them to the mix just before baking. However should I make the same quantity of soaked fruit and add the nuts on top of that, or make less fruit to compensate for the nuts?

  55. anna-marie says:

    I have NEVER made a Christmas cake before, and I’m really excited about trying it, but my other half doesn’t like nuts, can I substitute them for dried Apple (like his nan used to make) or will I have to subtract from the other dried fruit and just omit nuts entirely?
    Thanx in advance! 🙂

  56. Cat Piscopo says:


    I too am just about to have a go at this as a first time Christmas cake maker (!!), I want to add nuts – do I add them after the soak or do they get soaked with the fruit? Also, do I count the nuts in as fruit for the total 730g weight?

    Thanks very much, I’m super excited to be trying this!


  57. steph says:

    Hi,cant wait to make this cake but my tin is 10″ round, help!

  58. Tina says:

    Hi Ruth, I came accross your website on a google search,love your website. I have just soaked my fruit today to make my xmas cake, thank you for a excellent recipe. I will let you know how my cake turns out.

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  60. Emma says:

    Hi Ruth:o) I made the Jewelled fruit last week but with no alcohol as I’m a mum of 5 and I just know if I made it with alcohol it would never get eaten!

    I love the stirring part so much! It smells beautiful and is glossy and sparkly and is in essence just what christmas is about. Wonderful and I cannot wait to start the actual cake.

  61. lisbeth Robins says:

    How long do you leave your marzipan on your cake in the open, before you put icing on your Cake.thank you for your advice xx

  62. cora smith says:

    Thanks for showing fabulous information.

  63. Rachael Mackie says:

    I made this recipe. My first ever attempt at a Christmas Cake and it worked brilliantly! I made a double batch of soaked fruit but only made half of the fruit into a cake. The other half I am continuing to soak. My question is:after the designated 6 weeks of soaking should I bake the cake, feed it for a month, then freeze it for next year, or should I soak right up till November next year?? PS I live is Australia where the temps can get up and beyond 40 degrees celcius in Summer…

    • Great news! You can leave it soaking, but after 6 weeks it doesnt tend to improve any more so I’d bake it then, feed it for a month, let it mature for 3 months and then freeze it. Xx

  64. Rebecca says:

    Hi I soaked some dried fruit a while ago but did not weigh it out . How much do I use now for my fruit cake recipie as it will. Weigh more now?. Hope this makes sense? is there a simple calculation as you said you worked it out from 720g of fruit will measure approximate 1020g when soaked? if there is a way of calculating this please can you tell me thanks so so much Rebecca

  65. Salome SUMBHOOLAUL says:

    Hi Ruth I only just found your website, love it. I am trying your Christmas cake. I am a first timer. Have soaked my fruits a bit late but as you said, a week is better than none at all. Just a small question, what do I with the soaked brandy, do I use it again in the cake mixture?

  66. Sam says:

    Hi Ruth,1st time trying your recipe,I only needed a small cake, only problem just weighed my fruits and it only ways 124g I will be adding glazed cherries to this amount,so maybe round of 130g approx I was just wondering please, shall I decrease the mixture (flour/butter/sugar)accordingly or go with your measurements still? Thanks.

  67. Sam says:

    Hi just added 200g of cherries so total fruit 324g do you think I should half your flour, butter and sugar?

  68. maureen says:

    Hi, just wanted to say I have my mixture all done and sitting in the cupboard, I can’t wait to get up every morning to give it a stir, I put whiskey in for my mum, and it smells divine. Will up-date you when I make my cake but so far so good. Thank you for the fab recipe xx

  69. Edie says:

    Just read your recipe and am going to get my fruit soaking this afternoon …better late than never 🙂 Not made a xmas cake for a few years (since the earthquakes we had over here cos my oven was affected) so looking forward to seeing how this one turns out:-)

  70. Joan says:

    Can I freeze some left over dried fruit which has been soaked for 2 weeks?


  71. kelly S says:

    Hi Ruth,
    My sister soaks the ingredients for her fruit cakes in vodka and brandy (one cakes amount per spirit) for 6 months with sugar syrup then when it’s time to bake the cakes (she does this a day before decorating stages, no need for more feeding) pours excess alcohol into bottles and gives as Christmas fruits spiced drinks, double duty cake and flavoured spirits. Thought you would like this idea.
    Love kelly xx

  72. Dawn Bawler says:

    Hi Ruth, my family love your Christmas cake so much that my sister wants it for her wedding cake. What multiples & timings should I use for a 12 & 10″ cake please? Thank you in advance!

  73. sarah allen says:

    Hi, this sounds lovely – i
    m going to make a couple of cakes but i
    m having mixed fruit (including currants – do you think this is ok?), cranberries, glace cherries and apricots… do you think that is a nice mix? also – i’d like to make mini ones…. any ideas on timing? thanks sooooooo much xx

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