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British recipes: Christmas fruit cake

Close up picture of the top of a christmas cake with lots of cherries, no icingMy mother in law gave me this recipe.  It’s her mother’s recipe and no doubt has been passed down through the generations.  It’s best to make this 4 weeks before Christmas (which is right now!) so there is enough time to add the brandy.

I never really had fruit cake as a child, as my Oma made the German fig bread and Christmas biscuits instead.  I had this for the first time in 2011 when we spent Christmas with my husband’s family.  It’s very alcoholic and tastes absolutely amazing!  I ate so much.

This is a very large cake and you will  need a tin (with a lid) that is at least 15-20 cm (6 – 8 inches) high.  This can be made up to 3 months before Christmas.

Check out the video below for a demonstration.


  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 8 cups dried fruit (include raisins, sultanas, currents, dates, prunes, mixed candied peel)
  • 500 gr unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons dried ginger
  • 2 teaspoons bicarb soda / baking soda
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons coffee essence
  • 2 tablespoons treacle (caramel darkening)
  • 1/2 cup brandy (plus extra to pour over each week)
  • pinch salt
  • 8 beaten eggs
  • 4 cups plain flour
  • 250 gr glazed cherries, cut in half


Excluding the eggs, flour and cherries, boil all the ingredients in a very large pot for about 10 minutes and then cool.

In the large tin, oil the bottom, sides and lid.  Then cover all with greaseproof paper and then oil all again.  Preheat the oven to 190 C / 375 F.

Add the eggs and sifted flour into the boiled mixture once it’s cooled.

Pour into the lined tin.  Place the cut cherries on the top.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour.  Then reduce the temperature to 150 C / 300 F and bake for another hour.  Then reduce the temperature to 90 C / 195 F.  Cool in the tin for half an hour and then cool on a wire rack.

Once the cake is cool enough, poke a couple of times with skewers and then cover with the greaseproof paper and again in aluminium foil.  Store in an airtight container.

Once a week, feed the cake with 2-3 tablespoons of brandy up until Christmas.


If you don’t want to use brandy, you can replace it with orange juice.


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2 Responses

  1. Kieran says:

    This was AMAZING! I ate the largest of slices on a 24 hour flight. Will be recommending everyone makes this one for Christmas

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