Time to Start Your Christmas Cake

Oh yes, really it is!

Now’s the time to prep your dried fruit and set it soaking.  In six weeks time it will be perfect to bake your cake with.

Of course if you’ve baked your Christmas cake with me before there’s the trusty original ‘Boozy Fruit’ soak.  This year I’ve come up with another two more versions for you to choose from, one uses different fruits for a different slightly tangier taste the ‘Jewelled Boozy Fruit’ version

and ‘More Fruit Boozy Fruit’ which is exactly the same taste as the original version but packed with 1/3rd more fruit.

Each set of Boozy Fruit will make 1 x 8″ round cake or 1 x 7″ square.  I’ll also be doing timings for dividing the cake mixture into smaller cakes too!

Original Boozy Fruit

200g raisins

200g sultanas

175g dried figs, chopped

100g dates, chopped

55g mixed peel

Jewelled Boozy Fruit

270g dried cranberries

300g sultanas

130g glace cherries, halved

100g apricots

100g dried cherries

30g mixed peel

More Fruit Boozy Fruit

300g raisins

290g sultanas

100g dried figs

100g dates

100g currants

60g mixed peel


1 cinnamon stick

Zest and juice from 1 orange

55g caster sugar

170ml brandy


Whichever you go for the method is exactly the same, here’s how:

Place the fruit into a large bowl, chop any figs/dates/apricots into smaller pieces before adding them to the bowl.

Add the grated zest of your orange plus a cinnamon stick.

Measure the orange juice – we need 55ml.  If you have more drain it off to the correct amount,  if it’s short then top it up with water.

Place the juice and the caster sugar into a small pan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves – don’t let it boil.

Once the sugar has dissolved take it off the heat.

Measure the brandy into a jug and pour in the juice/sugar mixture.

Stir to combine and then pour the whole lot over the fruit.

Give it a good mix up and then transfer the boozy fruit to an airtight container (a 1.5litre one is just right)

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

Boozy Fruit Tips:

  • 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.

and I’ll be posting the cake recipe up soon – now get mixing!

Ruth Clemens, Baker Extraordinaire






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117 Responses to Time to Start Your Christmas Cake

  1. Sam says:

    Sounds lovely, will be gathering my ingredients. Can I mix and match the fruit as I don’t like peel and hubby doesn’t like figs/dates? Is there a weight that needs to be kept? Sam

  2. Pauline Brown says:

    Can I pick & choose from all the fruits providing it all adds up to the same measurement of fruit?

  3. Elizabeth Buttle says:

    What size/shape cake tin will the final recipie require please?

    • Sorry have updated the post with the info – I forgot to include it! The final cake will be an 8″ round cake (or 7″ square) but there will also be an option for dividing into smaller size tins for mini cakes too. Xx

  4. Sarah Jenkin says:

    Sounds amazing!! One question (and I may have already overlooked it!!) – what size cake is this for? Thanks Ruth!

    • Hi Sarah, there’s always something I forget to include sorry! Each Boozy Fruit soak will make an 8″ round cake or a 7″ square cake. I’ve updated the post to include this info too. I’ll also be including timings for dividing the cake mixture into mini cakes as well Xx

  5. Shona says:

    Hi Ruth,

    I’ve been making your Christmas cake since your GBBO appearance. This year, I was thinking of making some little ones for hampers. If I used, say, 10cm tins how would this effect my cooking time? Sorry this is a bit premature!

    Thanks for your help and also your great blog!

    • Hi Shona! This year I’m baking the cake at a lower temp but for longer for a gentler bake. I’ve worked up some of the timings already but will test timings for your 10cm tins too. I’ll include them in the ‘Time to Bake’ post Xx

  6. deb park says:

    Is there any way you could incorporate a metric / Imperial converter into your website ?? I am a 50+ yr old Brit living in the States and have yto do a maths conversion everytime I use a recipe. Too old for metric…too British for cups !

  7. Samantha says:

    I’ll be gathering my ingredients tomorrow when I shop…can’t wait!

  8. Francesca says:

    98 days until Christmas… first and foremost that means one thing… Pink Whisk Christmas cake time – thank you for once again sharing your lovely recipe Ruth. xx

  9. I am so excited to see this! Although I normally save this for an October half term project! I love using bright fruits in it- cherries and cranberries to make it look pretty.

  10. pamela says:

    Do you think it would be heresy to include ginger ? I’m thinking a few knobs of candied ginger rather than the crystallised stuff.. maybe even use the syrup from the jar (which I save – what for ?) to replace some of the sugar-water mix. Ginger is Christmas for me !

  11. Holly says:

    I made two cakes last year both to your recipe which were well received! The only request for this year is the addition of some nuts, can you suggest how some can be squeezed into the existing recipe? Thanks!

  12. Lyn says:

    Ruth, thanks for all the variations! Looks like I’ll be opting for the jewelled Boozy fruit soaked in Grand Marnier! Only problem is how do you stop yourself tasting the fruit each time you open the lid to stir it! I have a low resistance to any soaked mixed fruit, must stem back my childhood pinching Mum’s cooking ingredients from the larder!

  13. Shona says:

    Thanks Ruth, you’re a hero!

  14. alia khan says:

    Hi ruth, im still reeling from the fact that an xmas cake has to be started now. Anyway, i wanted to make the non alcoholic version of the cake, would i still need to make it now?

  15. Richard says:

    I’m so excited about Christmas already! Last weekend I made up enough boozy fruit for two cakes worth since last year the one cake disappeared by Boxing Day. Plus this year I had a brand new helper in the kitchen. My three month old baby boy Theon helped me to give the fruit a good mix so it’ll taste extra special. I’ll make a baker of him yet…

  16. Kirsty says:

    Hello Ruth.

    My mama doesn’t like brandy. Could I use whiskey instead of it?

    You’re baking skills are immense!

  17. Sophie Collingwod says:

    Looks delicious! On average, do you know how many an 8inch cake would feed – i realise this depends on the size of the slices, but a rough estimate? Many thanks and can’t wait to get started! x

    • I would say you would get 16 good sized slices from an 8″ Christmas cake. At home we tend to go for smaller slices and would probably get about 30 pieces in total, once first cut the cake goes into a tin and then munch on it right the way through to New Year! XX

  18. Nicki says:

    Hi Ruth,
    Last year I baked my first christmas cake using your recipe and tips. My kids and family loved it.Looking forward to trying this year recipe. xx

  19. Carol Bowman says:

    Cant wait to start my cake, off out to buy stuff tomoz. I moved to Canada last year so hope baking here it works out, i am so glad i came across your site, was looking for homemade potato cakes lol, cant get them here, so i make my own now! thanks 🙂

  20. Oh no it can’t be that time already!!!!!

  21. Laura says:

    Hi I’ve made your cake the past 2 years and loved it, but have a question for this years…I will not be ‘feeding’ my cakes once made, but if i want to start my fruit now to soak for 6 weeks, will the cake be OK left baked but un-iced from mid Nov to Christmas? (i’d probably ice mid Dec). Or is it best to leave the fruit soak to 6 weeks before i intend to bake and ice? Thanks for your help xx

    • Hi Laura,

      Yes it’s best to make your cake as soon as possible to allow it to mature and the flavours to develop – even if you’re not feeding it. Once the cake is baked you just need to wrap it up well and then put it away until you need it Xx

  22. Y. Linda says:

    This is my first time making Christmas cake, but I`m really looking forward to it. I am wondering what “mixed peels” is? I live in Norway and I havent seen it in the shops. Is it something I can make? Do you have a good recipe?


  23. Lynn says:

    Hi, Ruth
    I started really late last year but the cake was still absolutely fantastic. Can’t wait to get going this year.

  24. Kylie Zemanek says:

    I’m in Brisbane Australia and really keen to do my own cake this year, but I was looking for something like a chocolate christmas cake, have you ever done anything like this? I love the sound of the http://www.thecarvedangel.com/luxury-christmas-puddings chocolate and ginger or white choc and cranberry….

  25. Catherine says:

    Hi Ruth, so exciting I love Christmas!! I made this last year and it was fab! I was thinking about putting nuts in it this year – will this work and how should I adapt the recipe? Thanks

    • Hi Catherine – I’ll be adding a nuts option at the bake your cake stage – they don’t need to go in with the fruit to soak otherwise they’d lose their crunch – will keep you posted! x

  26. Wish I was into Christmas cake enough to make it myself!!

  27. Jules says:

    Thanks Ruth! Just watching gbbo which reminded me that it must be time to get the fruit on the go for your cake! I’m 8 days behind so better get a move on haha! Everyone loved it last year so think ill be making 5 or 6 this year! (Maybe 2 of each type!) thanks again for sharing your fab recipes!

  28. Zoe says:

    Hi Ruth

    I’m a newbie to your blog, I was recommended to it by a friend and it took me a couple of minutes o work out where I recognised you from!

    So I have a couple of questions…
    1. Do I have to use cinnamon? It gives me migraines so would rather not use it!
    2. I have seen the Christmas Cake cups from 12 days of Christmas last year, can you use this recipe for those or would they be too boozy? No little ones would be having any, well, a baby might have some… Will make her sleep!

    Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Zoe! No you don’t have to use cinnamon – if you have a favourite spice to use instead then go with that otherwise leave it out and this recipe will turn out great in the Christmas Cups xx

  29. Louise says:

    Hi Ruth!
    Just discovered your blog and loving this Christmas post! My mum in law always makes stacks of tiny Christmas cakes for giving as gifts to all ‘n sundry by baking them in empty baked bean tins. No idea how she does it but they’re dinky and fabulous! Anyhoo, I’m not quite there yet but think I might try your recipe this year since the fruit mix looks delish…

  30. Chrissie Brennan says:

    Hi Ruth have 2 lots of fruit Different ones,busy maturing in tupperware. I am doing your Christmas cake for the 1st time. Can I get the rest of the recipe say from last year. I need to cost out the ingredients for friends and neighbours.

  31. Charlie says:

    Hi Ruth,
    I’m doing the original (used your recipe for my first ever Xmas cake last year and everyone loved it!)

    However just noticed this has 730g of ingredients but other versions are 950g – have I missed something out or is this ok?

  32. Bernice says:

    This will be my third year of making your boozy fruit cake Ruth. I cannot recommend this recipe enough to my friends and family. I’m now up to making five cakes for various folks and the cakes never last more than a couple of weeks. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. x

  33. Rachel Barlow says:

    Hi Ruth, I have made this cake for Christams for the last two years. I am making my cousin’s wedding cake this year (she is getting married on 22nd December) and she wants a fruitcake layer on the bottom. This will be a 12″ round cake – I am hopeless at scaling recipes up, do you have any ideas on the quantities needed for a 12″ version of this cake? (otherwise I might use your quick wedding fruitcake and just soak the fruits and stuff a bit.) Thanks 🙂

  34. Chris says:

    Hi Ruth,

    One of my cakes for my in-laws I have to decorate without marzipan as neither of them like it (usually substitute a very thin layer of roll out icing) – do you think there will be an issue with seepage from the fruit to the cake if this is done without marzipan?



    • Hi Chris, I would leave it as late as you could to ice it if you’re wanting to miss out the marzipan layer, just storing the cake well wrapped. Seepage is one of those things you can never estimate how long you’ve got so I’d say 2 weeks in advance just in case Xx

  35. Rachel says:

    Hi Ruth, I need to bake one of my cakes on Wednesday as I’m going to be taking it to class to do royal icing in about 3 weeks time so need a couple of weeks to feed it. Should I just use last year’s recipe? I’m doing the jewelled version. Thanks, Rachel

  36. Deanne says:

    Hi Ruth, I’m trying your recipe for the first time this year. I live in Australia and it gets rather hot at this time of year, would there be a problem storing the soaking fruit in the fridge? Thanks

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  38. Pauline Brown says:

    Hi, do I still have time to soak my fruit now for a few weeks? Then bake a little later?

  39. Anne says:

    Hi is there an alternative to marzipan when icing the cake? I will be using fondant as the final layer but no one in the family likes marzipan. Thank you

    • Hi Anne, You could just do a single layer of fondant but depending on how moist the cake is it can bleed through and stain the icing. To be sure I would do two layers of fondant instead if you don’t want to use marzipan.

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  42. rue says:

    Hi ruth i made a mistake and did not melt the sugar i just put it all in at once, too much first time excitment!! will this affect my cake soak??? im sooo concerned

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  44. Geegee says:

    Not sure i have have enough time to complete all of your fabulous recipes.

  45. Gloria says:

    I cannot find the rest of the recipe for the Boozy Fruit Cake, have you post it?? I am dying to make it for Easter. Thank you

  46. julie says:

    Hi Ruth,
    i know im still abit early but trying to get things organised,can you tell me when should i prepare the booze and soak please??
    for this years xmas cake 🙂 xx

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  48. Debby says:

    Hi Ruth I’m coeliac, therefore need a gluten free cake. Do you think I can follow your recipe and just replace with a gf flour? Thanks x

    • Hi Debby – yes of course! Sometimes GF flour absorbs more liquid than a regular flour so you could need to add a couple of tablespoons of milk at the end just so the mix isnt too stiff Xx

  49. Heidi says:

    Would I be showing off if I said that I started soaking mine a couple of days ago? 😉

  50. Amal Bolbol says:

    Hi Ruth, I’m a huge fan! Can I use the soaked fruit for mince pies or would it be too wet? I usually make my own mince pies but with store bought mincemeat and add a few extra flavourings.

  51. Julie Thatcher says:

    Hi Ruth, I’ve a batch of fruit left over from last year that didn’t get up into a cake (long story) – there is no liquid left in it at all. Should I add some more and if so how much? Thank you x

  52. Tanja says:

    hello, this will be my first christmas cake attempt 🙂 just wondering, if i could use cherry brandy for soaking? i know im late, but thought even a few weeks will do it 🙂 xx

  53. Natasha says:

    Hi,I would like to know if the above receipe can be substituted with rum esssence ,since i live in the middle ease they are quite strict about boozy things 🙂

  54. Natasha says:


    Thank you so much for the wonderful receipe. I have a question though could i substitute Rum essence instead of brandy reason being i live in the middle east 🙂 and boozy things are a no-no over her.Would really appreciate your help as i am looking forward to make these wonderful batch of Christmas cakes

    • Yes, I’m sure you could! I would make a sugar syrup with 55g caster sugar and increase the water to 200ml, then add your essence to that before soaking the fruit, hope that helps x

  55. Dorothy Denyer says:

    Hello, I googled, How to prepare fruit for a Christmas Cake, and your web site came up, I can’t thank you enough, I’d already weighed and mixed the fruit for a ten inch square cake, I have two to make, 2425g of fruit each cake. I also have four 8 inch cakes to make so will use your recipe for those, I would like to soak the fruit for the large cakes so will try using your recipe for the syrup mixture in a bigger quantity, do you think it should work? Thanks again, I will pass this on to my friends.xx

  56. Debs hughes says:

    Hi Ruth,

    Am I able to swap the chopped figs for glacé cherries in the original boozy cake recipe? We do not like figs! I have baked your original last year but we all dislike figs.

  57. Charmaine says:

    I normally buy a 1kg of Bakers fruitmix which has all your ingredients in except the dates and figs. If I don’t want to put the figs in, could I just use the 1kg of fruit??

  58. Sarah says:

    Hi, just wanted to ask if you thought star anise might be a good addition as I really like it but only used it in savoury dishes so far, also is Cointreau ok to use as I already have some, many thanks!
    Ps love your blog

  59. Sharon says:

    Hi Ruth I have done the cakes and once again they look good ,but we are missing the daily ritual of smelling the fruit !!! So I might have to make more!! lol. Third year of making. Thanks again for the recipe . X

  60. Sharon says:

    Over the years I have made many Christmas cakes with varying degrees of compliments, this Christmas I made your recipe. I haven’t needed any comments, the fact that the whole cake has been eaten already says it all, although I have been told that it’s the best fruit cake i have ever made. Today, mid January, I have put another lot of fruit into soak, they are not happy waiting another 6 weeks, at least, for the replacement. Thank you so much. Xxx

  61. Karin groot kormelink says:

    Yesssss!!! The fruit is soaking!!!!

  62. Keely says:

    Hi Ruth!
    Posting again as my other one hasn’t posted in 8 days! So am a bit behind due to moving house and have only started my fruit soak on 21st November.
    How long do you think I should leave it before baking?!
    Keely x

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  65. Anne says:

    Hi this is my 2nd year of using your recipe, thanks. I decided to do it a bit differently this year and use a rumpotf and I covered the top on cling film to make airtight. It’s been soaking since mid September and I noticed last week that the mixture is really thick and syrupy which is unusual; should I be worried??? Please help. I do have about 6,5kgs of fruit and whisky, rum and some drambuie in it. There are no bubbles on the top and it just smells of alcohol. The other batch is about 1/3 of the rumpotf version and is in a plastic container; in this one the liquid is still quite runny ( I have only rum in that mixture). Any comments/suggestions welcome. Thanks

  66. Sara franks says:

    Hi, l am new to your site which has inspired me to bake a Christmas cake ( any cake) for the first time in my 65 years!
    So l have started my Jewel fruit marinating in brandy and orange juice, but apart from not being a baker l am also not tech savvy (l do have talent as a property coach though) and l can’t find the actual cake recipe. I know that l am being really dumb but please can you help?

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