Iced Christmas Cake

A rich, dark, traditional fruit cake that is enjoyed by everyone around the Yuletide season. Rich fruit cakes need a month or two to mature, so this recipe will need to be made way before 25th December in order to be enjoyed on the day.

When the cake is ready it can either be covered in the traditional way, by a layer of marzipan (almond paste) covered by white icing, or simply topped with glazed fruits and nuts.


Ingredients and Utensils

  • 900 grams (2 lb) mixed dried fruit
  • 75 grams (3 oz) glace (maraschino) cherries, halved
  • 75 grams (3 oz) chopped almonds
  • 75 grams (3 oz) ground almonds
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon brandy (optional)
  • 250 grams (9 oz) plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 225 grams (8 oz) butter or margarine
  • 225 grams (8 oz) soft brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of black treacle
  • 5 eggs (medium)
  • baking tin (9 inch round or 8 inch square)
  • large mixing bowl and wooden spoon
  • grease-proof baking paper

How to Make Christmas Cake

  1. Prepare baking tin by lining it with grease-proof baking paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together.
  3. Add eggs one at a time with a spoonful of flour until all have been added.
  4. Beat in the treacle.
  5. Fold in the remaining flour, spices and ground nuts.
  6. Fold in fruit, nuts, cherries and stir in the brandy (optional).
  7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.
  8. Protect the sides of the cake from burning with a double layer of grease-proof baking paper, tied around with string.
  9. Bake at 140 °C / 275 °F / Gas Mark 1 for 3.5 to 4 hours or until a skewer comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool and store in an airtight tin until needed.
  11. About ten days before Christmas cover the top and sides of the cake with almond paste.
  12. Leave in a cool dry place until the almond paste is dry.
  13. Ice with royal or fondant icing and add cake decorations.

Why does fruit cake need to be covered in marzipan?

The layer of marzipan is used to prevent the dark juices of the cake from leaching through the icing and spoiling the white colour. If any your guests are unable to tollerate nuts then you can make the cake without the nut/almond ingredients and use a nut free marzipan, which is usually made using finely ground semolina, sugar and butter.

If you don't wish to fully ice the whole cake you can just ice the top and use a decorative cake band to cover the sides (as shown above).

Serving Suggestions

Christmas Cake

Christmas cake is very rich and should only be served in small portions. It is often offered to festive visitors with a glass of mulled wine or a sweet sherry.

Store in an airtight container. Cut small slices as required and return to airtight container to keep fresh.

Other recipes to try: Dundee Cake | Victoria Sponge | Recipe Index

Recipe by Susanne (East Anglia)

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