Boozy Christmas Fruit

Boozy Christmas FruitYes yes, I’m ready for you to lynch me with all your squeals of ‘it’s nowhere near Christmas’.  I don’t care I love Christmas, the sooner the mince pies are in the shops the better as far as I’m concerned!  I’ve got my tree up already – haven’t you?
Well I’m sure you all know that the key to a super duper Christmas cake is to make it early and feed it with brandy or the like every week until Christmas but I came across the idea of starting this extra early and soaking the fruit for the cake in advance – for six weeks in fact.  The principle comes from the Bourke Street Bakery which is a book I truly love and was convinced to buy by the bake off gang, it’s been adapted to suit my favourite Christmas cake mix.  This quantity will ultimately make an 8″ Christmas Cake.
55g caster sugar

55ml water

170ml brandy
175g dried figs

200g raisins

200g sultanas

100g dates

55g mixed peel

Start by chopping the dried figs and dates into chunks.Place all the dried fruit in a large bowl and mix.

In a pan, heat the water and caster sugar stirring to dissolve the sugar to create a sugar syrup.  Set to one side and allow to cool slightly.

When cooled pour in the brandy.
Pour the liquid all over the dried fruit.

Place the whole lot in an airtight container.
For one week you will need to stir this daily,  think of it as a little pet.  No don’t, it’s not half as naughty as my cats.
Find a place for it to live in and after the first week you will only need to stir it once a week.  At the end of six weeks I’ll be back singing the joys of Christmas with a recipe to turn your syrupy boozy fruit mixture into the most fabulous Christmas cake.
Now no more bah humbug, add the fruits to your shopping list now.

Boozy Christmas Fruit
Boozy Christmas Fruit

Ruth Clemens BakerRuth Clemens, Baker Extraordinaire

Finalist BBC2’s The Great British Bake Off

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58 Responses to Boozy Christmas Fruit

  1. Victoria Plum says:

    Mmmm this sounds wonderful!! I normally bake my Christmas cakes at the end of September and feed with homemade sloe gin until the big day … might be tempted to have a change this year and ditch my trusted Delia recipe (adapted with sloe gin!) and have a go at this one! Boozy fruit sounds amazing!!!

  2. Sally says:

    Will you be posting your cake recipe at the appropriate time? Off to buy the fruit right now. This sort of thing ticks all the boxes of comforting cooking.

  3. Ruth says:

    Absolutely, will be back with the Cake recipe mid October! x

  4. Cath Davidson says:

    I've never made a Christmas cake, and I'd already decided this year was the year I would, so have all the fruit and brandy ready and waiting, I just wasn't sure if I was too early 😀 (Can you ever be too early for Christmas lol) – Off to start this, this afternoon.

    Can't wait for the cake recipe now 🙂

  5. says:

    Lovely Ruth. You can never be too early for Christmas.

  6. Pixiedust says:

    Love making christmas cake, will give this a try the boozier the better I say. I'm a christmas a-holic too. :O) xxx

  7. Diane says:

    The Bourke Street Bakery book is amazing! You made me smile by mentioning it.

    I used to queue round the block to buy the stunning loaves, tarts and heavenly sausage rolls from the original Surry Hills store in Sydney, so the book is a great go-to now I've moved back to the UK. If you ever go to Sydney, I recommend joining the queue come rain, hail & shine 🙂

    So important to lavish your fruit with attention & plenty of time, I agree. Looks SO good!

  8. Clemmie says:

    I'm making two Christmas cakes this year so now have two tubs of happily marinating fruit in my kitchen! Looking forward to seeing the rest of the recipe next month. Thanks so much x

  9. Dangerous Variable says:

    Just watched the Great British Baked Off finals… Well done gal!

  10. says:

    Congrats on coming second Ruth! I loved everything you made, especially that chocolate cake! Amazing! Also loved your final mini cakes! I bet they tasted delicious. You're friends must LOVE you!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Just watched BBC BakeOff Final – You should've won, Ruth!!

  12. TopCat76 says:

    Think I'll be giving this a try next week, looks scrummy! Commiserations on the result, I actually shed a tear when you did!!
    Hey, at least it's nearly Christmas!! If you love it check out my little Folksy store, lots of lovely handmade decorations to be had:
    Tracey x

  13. Ruth says:

    Hi Ruth! I've just watched the final of Bake Off ~ so wanted you to win! It's great to discover your blog and I'm looking forward to being inspired to greater culinary heights!

  14. Scarlett says:

    Congratulations on the GBBO!! You did so well and everything looked amazing! Just found your blog-it's lovely!

  15. Mary Poppins says:

    Ohoo yum yum, thanks for sharing :0)

    Wanted to pop on too and say well done on becoming the runner up tonight, I thought your baking was beautiful, I adored the prettiness of your mint, blackberry and ginger cakes :0) You should be really proud.


  16. April@The 21st Century Housewife says:

    You've inspired me – I'm not normally a Christmas cake kind of girl, but I will definitely be getting started on this!

    By the way, I thought you were brilliant on the Bake Off, and have to confess I was cheering for you throughout! Well done for starting a blog – I look forward to visiting again soon!

  17. LaaLaa says:

    I've just seent he final. I have a tear in my eye. Lynda xx

  18. tinylou says:

    wow this looks amazing

    PS congrats on such a great bake off challenge.. i still think ur scones looked so much more appealing x

  19. Sinead says:

    Ruth, I love you!!! This is the first year I planned to make a Christmas cake and I'm going to use your recipe!

    Sinead X

  20. Donna says:

    Congratulations on your success in the Great British Bake Off 🙂 I've just finished watching the final and noticed you have a blog – love it! You're very talented
    Donna 🙂 x

  21. amylane says:

    I love Christmas too and am already getting excited! This is a great idea. I usually make my cakes soon after my birthday is over (which is Friday!) – the longer you leave them, the better they cut 🙂

  22. Serendipity (Christine) says:

    Fruit is on my list and I'm going to follow you all the way – thank you :-))

  23. Gingernut says:

    THANK YOU!! Just the push I needed. I made a promise to myself a few weeks ago that this would be the week I start work towards my cake. I am a great advocate of adding, ading & then adding some more brandy! I made my first Christmas Cake last year & whilst it wasn't a I am hoping that with your help it will be an out and out success this time. x
    PS LOVED watching you on Bake Off…you were brill.

  24. pfj-at-openid says:

    I like making Christmas Cake and have done since I made them with my mother some 50 years ago. I make one most years but my wife never eats it because she hates Candied Peel. I've added Cherries, Figs, Apricots and various other things over the years but I've never been happy with them. What would you suggest as a good alternative to peel?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the tip Ruth and well done in the GBBO!. I normally start my Christmas cake fruit when the kids go back to school and do the puddings in the October half term, that way the kids can help mix the fruit…they love it! I always soak my fruit as it makes it plump and juicy and makes the cake moist, but normally for a couple of days. Great idea! I will give it a try and can't wait for the rest of the recipe!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Ruth will give this a go this weekend. Well done last night you did the North West Mums proud

  27. Anonymous says:

    congratulations Ruth been on holiday but taped the programme I have my ingredients ready for the Christmas cake cannot wait for the recipe If it is successful I am going to use this recipe for my daughters wedding cake next May
    thank you once again

  28. Ruth says:

    As an alternative to mixed peel I would replace with the same weight of currants/raisins or sultanas x

  29. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Ruth you have really inspired me to bake. Will be following your blog and trying your recipes.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I would just like to say congratulations to you first of all. I was rooting for you from the start and really thought you should have won the GBBO!!! Saw the blog at the end of the programme and couldn't wait to see it.
    I have decided to make this the year that I experiment with baking bread, cakes etc and even soups and jams!!! You are an inspiration – keep it up and I look forward to following your blog xxx

  31. Trollope & Fruitcake says:

    This looks most interesting…

    Last year I cooked the lovely Nigella cake (the one with prunes and Tia Maria)but may just be tempted to change my allegiance this year.

  32. Trish says:

    Made my Christmas cake yesterday but after reading this recipe I could be tempted to make another, purely for the purpose of research ! Loved the baking programme,watching "ordinary" people cook instead of professionals, don't know how you all coped with the stress, I'd have had major tantrums. Am nowhere in your leagues but considering I was ejected from school cookery lessons on the basis that I was a "hopeless case", I am now a decent enough cook and take great joy in bread making. Good luck for the future, in all that you do.

  33. Anonymous says:

    My nan's christmas cake always used to start with soaking the fruit weeks before, it was a sunday ritual for her to add a bit more booze to the jars and for her to give them us and we had to give them a really good shake!!! Many happy memories are related to making that cake, thanks for the reminder x

  34. Peter Benson says:


    Thank you. TGBB and you have inspired me to make my first ever Christmas cake, and I've just got in from Morrisons having purchased all of the fruit, and brandy! Mustn't drink too much brandy tonight while I've a knife in my hand!!

    I'll be making your Sugar Crusted Fruit Scones tomorrow, having bought all the ingredients today too.

    Who'd have thought, me baking!?

    Peter x

  35. f0rdg1rl says:

    done… I knew that trusty Kilner jar would come in handy.

    can't wait for the recipe!!

  36. Anonymous says:

    this is my first christmas cake, fruit is done, can't wait for the recipe! going to make your scones today, yummy!

  37. frompfj says:

    After consulting the boss (wife) I've substituted Cherries for the mixed peel. I also decided to make triple the amount so I could also make Christmas Cakes for our Daughter and Son. It was only when I strated to measure out the 510ml (half a litre) of Brandy that I realised just how Boozy a cake it is (excellent). Fortunately I had about 550ml of Brandy left in the bottle so I am now enjoying a 40ml post-lunch drink. Cheers and can't wait until the rest of the instructions.

    I did have one question, about storage. I have a choice: fridge, room temperature or pantry (quite cool); I've chosen the pantry but I'm not sure if light (or not) will make any difference. I guess I'm worried about the fruit fermenting. So what is your advice about ideal storage?

  38. Lilibet says:

    you have spurred me into getting sorted.My fruit is measured ,syrup made & mixed with brandy & the whole lot is sitting on my worktop waiting to be stirred again tomorrow.The smell is wonderful!Thanks for this.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Loved everything about the GBBO. Congratulations on your second place win. You were and are so gracious. It was fantastic. Have found your website a joy to read and want to try all your recipes especially this Christmas cake recipe. Will get mixing asap and await the next installment. I am going to try the ginger cake too as way back in my youth my mother had several disasters with ginger cake and they became a standing joke in the family. Hopefully your recipe will break the mould of failure. Wish me luck.

  40. Ruth says:

    Best place to keep this is at room temperature in the pantry or in a safe spot on the worktop or in the cupboard x

  41. pbutterfly203 says:

    How exciting, I was just thinking I would need to get started on my xmas cake, so I think I will get started with your boozy fruit this evening. I'm a little behind, but I am sure it'll be ok!

  42. Bakingmum says:

    Just done this Ruth and looking forward to the next steps – I'm a UK expat living in Asia but bake nearly every day with my 2 little girls (raspberry cheesecake muffins today). Loved following the GBBO and think you did a fantastic job – well done!

  43. Anonymous says:

    Loved the GBBO and thought you were a winner from the start – though Ed's bread was very impressive. Full of good intentions to develop my baking skills and delighted with your blog and with how inspirational you and all the contestants were. Love the recipes and look forward to attempting them!

  44. Nicola Richardson says:

    I like Glace cherries in my Christmas cake would it work, if so what would you reduce????
    First making of my own cake so I wanted to follow a recipe that works and is easy to do hence I came to The Pink Whisk!!!

  45. Ruth says:

    Nicola – just as long as the total weight of the fruit mixture comes to about 725g you can use any combination of fruit you like, I would cut down a bit on each of the fruits and add the glace cherries to replace. x

  46. Anonymous says:

    Would it be to late to start this now and then make it into cake in a few weeks time? The christmas cake looks fab!

  47. iJod says:

    ditto to the above – also, i am not a huge fan of brandy (soz!) so would it work with something else like rum?

  48. Rachel says:

    Just written my shopping list and plan to make this my first ever homemade xmas cake (bit late I know but hopefully better late than never!). Already picked up a couple of decorating bits from Lakeland in preperation!

  49. Michelle says:

    Hi Ruth, I've just come across this recipe. I tried the Delia Christmas cake a couple of times but it was too dry for my liking. I'm not a great baker and am very apprehensive about having another go at my own Christmas cake! I like a nice moist cake but am not big on the over alcohol taste. Is it too late for me to do this version now? Could I leave the fruit to soak till about a week before Christmas do you think?

    Many Thanks
    An Intrepid Baker!!

  50. Ruth says:

    Hi Michelle, Intrepid Baker! Yes soak till a week before Christmas and then bake and decorate it will be fab!

  51. Anonymous says:

    I have made my cake, looks great! However, it needed 3 hours not 2. Sue Foreman

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  54. Chrissie Brennan says:

    Hi Ruth, I bake and sell cakes to my friends. this year because of the cost everyone wants a 6inch cake, are you going to publish the different amounts needed. If so when canwe expect them. chrissie x

  55. Maria Spencer says:

    Hi Ruth, I can’t find the bake the cake bit yet.

    All the fruit has been soaking but I’m having to bake the cake early because I’m going to be out of the country between now and Christmas. x

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