Time to Bake Your Christmas Cake

Christmas Cake - Boozy Fruit Part 2So you’ve been lovingly stirring your boozy fruit for the past few weeks and enjoying inhaling the fumes as you do so! Now it’s time to turn that jar of loveliness into this years Christmas Cake. If you missed the Boozy Fruit post you can find it here, get going with it now, even a weeks soaking is going to create some Christmas Magic!


225g butter, softened
150g soft brown sugar
75g dark brown sugar
2 tbsps treacle
2 tsps mixed cake spice
285g plain flour
5 large eggs, beaten

1 x Boozy Fruit already prepared.

150ml brandy for feeding.

This recipe will make an 8″ round or 7″ square Christmas Cake, if you prefer you can bake two 4″ cakes.

First, the top tips to stop your cake ending in disaster:

  • If you haven’t prepared your boozy fruit do it now (and then come back and tell me why you didn’t do it when I posted the recipe – bad Pink Whiskers!)  Soak it for at least a week, more if you can.  Once you’ve soaked it there may still be excess liquid with the fruit, heat the mixture gently in a pan until the majority of the liquid has gone, then continue with the recipe.
  • If you’re outside the UK can’t get hold of treacle, molasses is a good substitute.
  • Make sure your tin is deep sided, a shallow tin won’t do the trick here!
  • Be sure of your oven temperature, a long slow bake is what is called for to stop the cake from drying out too much and baking evenly.
  • Position your cake on a shelf about 1/3rd of the way up from the base of the oven.
  • When it comes to feeding the baked cake, you can miss this out completely if you would rather, wrap the cake well as described and set aside to mature.  The flavours of the cake still intensifies and the fruit in the cake will soften and be delicious.
  • If you would rather you can feed with apple juice or tea for a non-alcoholic cake.
  • If you don’t have a tin big enough to store your cake it will be fine wrapped well with baking paper and foil alone.

So, we’re sorted, on to the recipe

Preheat oven to a low 150c Fan/170c/Gas Mark 3.

Double line an 8” tin with baking paper.

Wrap a thick layer of newspaper around the outside of the tin and secure with string.  If you have children in your house this might be an epic adventure especially as it’s just been conker season!

Start by creaming together the butter and the sugars.

Add the treacle and beat until combined.

Add the beaten eggs a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.

After the eggs are fully incorporated sift over the flour and cake spice and fold into the mixture.

Finally remove the cinnamon stick from the boozy fruit you lovingly prepared a few weeks ago add and mix until the fruit is distributed evenly.

Add the mixture to the prepared tin and bake in the oven for approx 2 hours. Check after one hour and if the top is browning too quickly add a loose sheet of baking paper to the top. (If you’re making 4″ cakes they will need to be baked for approx 1 hour)

The cake is ready when the top is a dark golden brown and when inserted a skewer comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin.

Once the cake is cold remove it from the tin removing the baking paper from the sides of the cake but keeping the base disc in place, this will help keep in moisture as the cake is fed in the run up to Christmas.

On your worksurface lay out two large pieces of foil, one horizontally and one vertically. On top of that place two large sheets of baking paper. Finally position the cake in the middle.

Using a skewer pierce 30-40 holes in the top of the cake, only ¾’s of the depth of the cake though so that the brandy doesn’t run straight through!

I like to put the feeding brandy into a jam jar, that way it’s to hand whenever it’s time to feed the cake.

Using a pastry brush, brush over the entire top of the cake with the brandy. You are looking to add 1 or 2 teaspoons of brandy in each feed.

Once fed, gather up the baking paper and seal in the cake, repeating with the foil layer. No place the whole lot in a suitable container, I use an old Christmas sweetie tin which is just the perfect size!

Place the container into a cupboard or the pantry, it needs to be out of direct sunlight somewhere dry but don’t forget about it. Feed it every 3-4 days for the next few weeks or until the cake won’t absorb anymore.

Christmas cake – done! (well for now, I’ll be back at the end of November with some easy decorating ideas and maybe a tricky one too!)

Here’s a picture of the inside of the cake – before feeding and maturing.  It already tastes delicious!

Christmas Cake - Boozy Fruit Part 2
Ruth Clemens, Baker Extraordinaire


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73 Responses to Time to Bake Your Christmas Cake

  1. biscuit face says:

    I am so going to make this, even if I haven’t soaked my fruit yet (naughty naughty, I know). I’m kicking myself though as I’ve just thrown the exact same tub you used to store your cake in in the bin.

  2. Rose says:

    This weekend is my big Christmas cake cook in! I put a tray of water at the bottom of the oven when I bake mine

  3. Heather Pickmere says:

    Dear Ruth …
    So here in Oz I baked my Chrisssie cakes in July -AUg ..all 7 of them as my family love fruit cake . By September they were all gone . WHen you posted your boozy cake recipe I decided to “bake along ” adding 700 ml Captain Morgan’s spiced rum ( very nice ) and tripling the fruit … unforutanately I have eaten two/thirds of the fruit mixture / really good stuff . May I suggest that people use a drink that they do not like to soak the fruit in to avoid my mishap ( or get a locked cupboard to hide boozy fruit mixture/fruit cake in ) ?

  4. marieke says:

    Hi Ruth,
    Question from abroad: what do you mean by ‘mixed cake spices’? My boozy fruit has been soaking for four weeks now and my husband thinks I’ve gone completely over the top. But I’m hoping for a big wow at Christmas 😉
    Thank you!

    • Hi Marieke – its all the fun of Christmas! Mixed cake spices are a warming spice mix usually a combination of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. You can make your own cake spice using a little of each, perhaps slightly heavier with the cinnamon x

  5. sue says:

    I made this cake (from last year’s recipe) last week. (The weather was bad one day). It looks and smells really good!! It also feels lovely and soft – unlike some xmas cakes I’ve made before. I’m feeding brandy to it now. Brill tip about how to do that – it’s not getting saturated just moist. Looking forward to the decorating bit – I’m not very accomplished at that.

  6. Lynn says:

    I’ve prepared my fruit today – late I know, I had no intention on making a Christmas cake, haven’t done for years, but your recipe has won me over! Is it better to let it soak for a couple of weeks and then make the cake, or just a week and make the cake sooner? xx

  7. Emma says:

    Hi! Mine is just out of the oven. It’s had 2 hrs at 150 fan oven. It’s doesn’t look as brown as yours but I daren’t leave it any longer as I have a small crack in the top. I’ve put a skewer in and it’s dry so fingers crossed hey!!

  8. That’s it… Ruth you have inspired me again.. I shall make my christmas cakes this weekend and blog about them !


  9. Beth says:

    All ready to make my cake but do you prefer salted or unsalted butter? Sorry to be a numpty. I usually use unsalted in my sponge mixes but then I add some salt.
    Thanks x

  10. liz faulkner says:

    just getting ready to pop mine in the oven 🙂 This is the first one of two as I have to make one for our school Xmas fair. Hope fully your upcoming designs will give me some decorating tips Ruth!

  11. Emma says:

    Devastated!!! I sliced a thin layer off the bottom of my cake (( and it doesn’t look cooked in the middle. I’m absolutely gutted! Im guessing all I can do is just avoid eating the middle?  I don’t suppose I could whack it back in for a bit?

    • If it’s still mushy in the middle it is undercooked – you can try getting it back in the oven, but you will have to watch it for burning. If you have a metal skewer, still it into the middle uncooked part before putting it back in the oven, it will conduct the heat and help in cooking the bit you want to get cooked. Make a foil top for the cake, cutting out the circle in the middle that is underdone.
      The feeding with brandy will help and you might just get away with it. Failing that, when it comes to serving the cake just cut slices slightly short of the centre! x

      • Emma says:

        I don’t think I dare risk it. It’s not mushy but looks much darker and under done. I have made twice as much boozy fruit so I’ll give it another go at the weekend. Thanks for your help!

  12. Emmy says:

    I made this cake, although its taken 3 hrs in the oven and still not quite cooked in the middle. I only left the fruit for a week, so it may have been a little bit wet, although it seemed all the liquid was absorbed. I also used muscovado sugars, light and dark. Was this the wrong ones?

    • Muscovado sugars are fine to use. Your oven must run low in temp for it to take longer to cook, which isn’t a problem just make sure it’s cooked all the way through before taking out of the oven x

  13. Cass Ward says:

    Well I’ve just made about 10 small cakes, some in small long tins and some in paper baking cases for gifts. I cheated and didn’t wrap in newspaper because it was too awkward for these tins. I also have a very hot oven so my baking time ranged from 20 – 40 minutes depending on the size of the tin. I made some tiny ones to check how the paper cases went and I just sliced a bit to try it and ended up eating the whole thing it was absolutely beautiful. I’ve still got one batch of fruit to bake up into a normal size tin for us but I am already thinking of putting on some more fruit to soak.

  14. Kay says:

    I made this last year so this year I’m making 2. It is the best recipe for Xmas cake ever, foolproof and totally delicious.
    I didn’t have time to decorate much last year so did a marzipan layer and loads of very roughed up royal icing all over, sprayed with edible silver shimmer and sprinkled with silver balls. Lazy but effective! Looking forward to decorating inspiration this year Ruth 😉

  15. Luisa says:

    I made my cake yesterday (first Christmas cake or fruit cake I have made). It came out looking lovely after 2 hours at 150 deg C in a fan oven. Tested with a cake tester and it was clean so now can’t wait till Christmas to taste it! thank you x

  16. Andrea says:

    Hi, i have a couple of questions… I am a first-timer…
    1. why there is a rule to whisk butter with sugar and then add whisked eggs…instead how about whisk eggs with sugar and add cooled melted butter…
    My first attempt took only 2:20 hours to baked in 150 deg. convene. oven. (9″ round)
    2. instead of air tight container, can i wrap it in cling film after is wrapped with paper & foil?
    Many thanks,

  17. Samantha says:

    I have a tip I’d like to share with you. I use a brandy-filled syringe to feed my Christmas cake, you can buy one from most chemists for just a few pence (there is NO needle attached, it’s just the plastic syringe, I use a 5ml one) I make the holes with a skewer and then very slowly inject in the brandy. I find it’s less wasteful than spooning it over as a lot runs off the cake rather than into the holes, but of course you could do both. I do the top of the cake one day, then wait a few days and turn it over to do the bottom, but you can also get round the sides with this method. xx

  18. Joe says:

    Hi! I realized after baking the cake that I used unsalted butter without adding a pinch. Is there a way to correct this after the bake? I was considering adding a pinch to the feeding brandy.



  19. Pen says:

    Two out of my three are in the oven. Mark’s mum has had to help me make them as I broke my wrist this week. All gone smoothly so far, fingers (on the non broken hand) crossed they bake beautifully.

    Thanks Ruth


  20. Morgan says:

    Ruth, this is the third cake I’ve made (££££), the last one was yr recipe as I’m not happy with the texture. All on the boiled/soaked fruit style but also concerned with this one too. A chunk fell off and also see it looks heavy and dense/stoggy some what looks undercooked. I cooked it for 2hrs and sewer came out bone dry. I am concerned that the soaking of fruit makes the mix too wet.The top is totally flat with tiny bubbles. I see there is no baking powder in the mix either. I’m pretty good at baking and in previous yrs make good xmas cakes without the soaking. Will the cake mature and dry out. Thinking at making another cake but not less fluid and boiling it off. I’m very concerned

  21. Morgan says:

    Has anyone cut through and Ruth is there a chance of photo showing what the texture is like?

  22. Kirsten says:

    Thanks for setting us off early with the boozy fruit. Every year It gets to the week before Xmas and I wish I’d made a cake. Thanks to you, this year I’m well prepared! Just fed it and wrapped it up all cosy in its little box.

  23. Lynn says:

    I baked mine this morning after 2.5 weeks’ soaking. The top is quite domed and has cracked, which happened after I put the paper on. Hopefully I can cut the top off and ice it upside down.

  24. Alexandra says:

    Hey Ruth,
    Since I made mine without alcohol ( folowing your recipe for non-alcoholoic soaked fruit…delicious btw) I was wondering what to soake the cake with? Would like to keep itnon-alcoholic what with all the small kids in the family so would love to hear ypur suggestion. Thanks a bunch! Alexandra

    • You can soak with tea, apple juice or orange juice. If it’s a non-alcoholic cake I would just wrap it well and leave it to mature without feeding it at all – it will still be delicious without! x

  25. Baker says:

    Fantastic recipe. We had always used molasses in the past but will try treacle to make it a little sweeter.

    Also that’s what we use our left over Celebrations boxes for (always handy for round cakes!)

  26. Pauline M says:

    I made my cake on Sunday and it looks pretty good and feels nicely squishy.
    I have an Aga and cooked it in the bottom oven for 6 hours (did not mean to leave it so long but forgot about it) and it seemed to have worked. My mixture looked too much for an 8″ round so used 9″ round.
    I will continue feeding it and let you know how it worked after Christmas.

  27. Polly Rae Smith says:

    Hi Ruth! I’ve had no oven until recently so only getting round to baking my xmas cake this afternoon. (We don’t mind eating it in January!) But I only have a 9″ cake tin. Should I alter the time it’s in the oven for? Fantastic blog by the way, so many recipes I am desperate to try! 🙂 Polly

  28. Nicki says:

    Hi Ruth,this is my first time baking a christmas cake.Is it too late to bake it now and would it be ok to eat for christmas? I have soaked the boozy fruit. Nicki

  29. emma says:

    mine’s just out of the oven and looking and smelling mighty fine! am another late-cake-cooker – oops! good to hear that haven’t left it too late although my boozy fruit mix has had something like 8 weeks soaking lol 🙂 thanks for the recipe and instructions Ruth! x

  30. Sylvia Turnbull says:

    Hi Ruth. My non alcoholic fruit is still soaking as I’m not sure when to make my cake. As I won’t be feeding it with alcohol shall I just wait until christmas eve and bake it then? Really not sure what to do. please help!x

  31. Sylvia Turnbull says:

    Hi Ruth. I am absolutely devastated. I baked my cake today (I know a bit late, but we had so much food in the house to get through!!). I followed your instructions to the T and baked it for 2 hours at Gas 3 like you said. I lined the tin and put some newspaper around it. I got the cake out of the oven and tested it. It was a little under-done so I left it in the hot oven to cool down and hoped that the last bit of heat would continue cooking the middle (which I’ve done before-but I suppose not with a fruit cake). Anyway after half an hour I was desperate to see my cake, so I tried to get it out of the tin and it collapsed all over my work top! Basically, it was SO under-done in the middle. The sides and top were perfect. I was so shocked and upset. With the help of my mum I managed to (I have no idea how!) get the cake back into the tin, by scooping it up with two fish slices!-NOT an easy job. scolding hot cake=burnt hands! Really can’t believe it worked. I then put it back into the oven on Gas 5 for an extra hour. This worked and the cake is done to perfection, although it’s a bit untidy looking! I don’t understand how it was so under-cooked. But it turned out fine in the end and tastes delicious!! Not sure what to do next year though!!x

    • Oh what a trauma – something you don’t need for Christmas 🙁 I would check the temperature of your oven with a removable oven thermometer, for it to be so underdone it sounds like it’s running (very) low. Glad you at least managed to rescue something from it x

  32. emma says:

    thanks so much for this recipe and website ruth! have had so many compliments about my Pink whisk Xmas cake. Already planning when tostart soaking the boozy fruit mix for 2012! x

  33. Luisa says:

    Finally cut the cake on boxing day and was delighted with final result – a moist cake but not too heavy. Thank you!

  34. Lynn says:

    Just popped back to say that the cake was absolutely delicious. What didn’t get eaten at home I took into work and it went down very well indeed. Thank you for the lovely recipe x

  35. Charlie says:

    Hi. My friend loved this cake so much at xmas she has asked me to use the recipe for her wedding cake. I have 2 questions I hope you can answer for me..

    How deep is the cake? I can’t remember from xmas!
    SHe wants to keep the top tier for her babies christening…how long will the cake last?

    Thanks, Charlie

    • That’s great! The depth is between 3 – 3 1/2″ once the top has been trimmed. The cake will keep like any fruit cake well wrapped for upto 6 months but it would be best to freeze it straight away if planning to keep it for a christening, then they can be kept much longer x

  36. Charlie says:

    Hi. My friend loved this cake so much at xmas she has asked me to use the recipe for her wedding cake. I have 2 questions I hope you can answer for me..

    How deep is the cake? I can’t remember from xmas!
    SHe wants to keep the top tier for her babies christening…how long will the cake last?

    Thanks, Charlie

  37. Pingback: Christmas cakery | Indulgence Cupcakes

  38. Olive Murphy says:

    baked the cake for a party to celebrate the Queens diamond jubilee. absolutely delicious, best fruit cake they ever tasted. easy recipe, just had to bake it for about 2.75 hours as my oven is bit slow and I put a bowl of water in bottom of oven as well. roll on Christmas! Thank you so much for sharing this fabulous recipe.

  39. e says:

    is it too late to recook a cake after it has had alchohol added. The skewer came out clean 2 weeks ago but now on closer inspection it doesnt look as if the middle is cooked. Help!

  40. Chrissie Brennan says:

    Hello Ruth, have just baked the 1st 3 christmas cakes using you recipe It tastes delicious, but is slightly crumbly when you cut it. Is there a reason for this. I normally use a 100 year old South African recipe for my fruit cakes because it cuts so well for fingers. But your boozy jewelled mixture got me hankering after trying something new. I need to know how to stop the cake from crumbling when cut. Please advise. Chrissie. x

  41. Catherine Harvey says:

    Started looking up how to make an non alcoholic cakes (for rehab centre) and came across your wonderfu site . Although I have 8 boozy made and they turned out very well. I had to cut corners on the icing and got ready to roll instead and turned out great .too expensive to make royal icing for so many!
    But I learned a good few tips from reading your site!
    I also had to buy florist clear paper for presentation!
    Thank you very much for your site Ruth.

  42. Emma Steers says:

    Hi there,

    I wondered if you could help me on a little question I have. I don’t know if you will still look at this post since it’s a while back but I thought I would give it a go 🙂

    So, I’ve made my Christmas cake and it has turned out good, the only thing is that the centre of the cake has risen a bit higher than normal, which I don’t mind. Though I was wondering when I go to feed it, will I be okay cutting the top bit of the cake off so it is level and then feeding it? Or would I be best just feeding it as it is, then levelling the cake after the feeding process? Just didn’t want to give it a go directly and then the cake go all soggy, if any of that just made sense…? I hope it did!!


    Emma 🙂

  43. Ems says:

    Please can you tell me how to keep small fruit cakes fresh in a cardboard presentation box? I am topping some with glazed fruits and nuts and don’t know the best way to ensure they keep fresh for selling as they won’t be encased in icing.

  44. Lillian says:

    I baked a xmas cake in October, when I went to cut it , it just crumbled , can I save it or should I just throw it out? It looks to be moist

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