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A christmas cake decorated with white icing snowflakes and silver balls Tried & Tested

Classic Christmas cake

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2.6 stars based on 20 ratings

This recipe for a classic Christmas cake is easy to make. Finish with traditional marzipan and icing for a chic, understated look.

Key Information

  • Prep:
  • Bake:
  • Serves:16
  • Skill level:medium

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Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1¼kg 2⅞ lb Dried mixed fruits
  • 100ml 3½ fl oz Brandy or rum, plus extra for feeding
  • 1 1 Orange(s) juice and zest
  • 1 1 Lemon(s) juice and zest
  • 125g 4½ oz Glacé cherries
  • 275g 9¾ oz Plain white flour (we use Allinson) Plain white flour
  • 2tsp 2tsp Mixed spice
  • 225g 8 oz Butter (unsalted) softened
  • 225g 8 oz Unrefined light muscovado sugar (we use Billington's) Unrefined light muscovado sugar
  • 5 5 Egg(s) (free range) large
  • 100g 3½ oz Almonds (ground)

For the decoration

  • 1kg 2¼ lb Marzipan
  • 1kg 2¼ lb Sugar paste icing white
  • 2tbsp 2tbsp Apricot jam
  • Silver balls to decorate
  • Icing sugar for dusting (we use Silver Spoon)

Change Units

The Method Enter Bake mode

  1. Classic mode Step 1

    Put all the mixed dried fruit into a large mixing bowl and add the brandy, orange juice and the zest of both the orange and lemon. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave for 24 hours, shaking occasionally.

    Ingredients for this step

    • 1¼kg 2⅞ lb Dried mixed fruits
    • 100ml 3½ fl oz Brandy or rum, plus extra for feeding
    • 1 1 Orange(s) juice and zest
    • 1 1 Lemon(s) juice and zest
  2. Classic mode Step 2

    Line a round 23cm cake tin or a square 20cm square tin with three layers of greaseproof paper. You will also need a double layer of brown paper to wrap round the outside of the tin.

  3. Classic mode Step 3

    Preheat the oven to 150°C (130°C fan, 300°F, gas mark 2).

  4. Classic mode Step 4

    Rinse the cherries carefully in warm water. Dry and cut into quarters.

    Ingredients for this step

    • 125g 4½ oz Glacé cherries
  5. Classic mode Step 5

    Sift the flour and mixed spice together.

    Ingredients for this step

    • 275g 9¾ oz Plain white flour (we use Allinson) Plain white flour
    • 2tsp 2tsp Mixed spice
  6. Classic mode Step 6

    Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the eggs, one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the flour mix after each addition.

    Ingredients for this step

    • 225g 8 oz Butter (unsalted) softened
    • 225g 8 oz Unrefined light muscovado sugar (we use Billington's) Unrefined light muscovado sugar
    • 5 5 Egg(s) (free range) large
  7. Classic mode Step 7

    Fold in the remaining flour, ground almonds, cherries and the soaked dried fruit.

    Ingredients for this step

    • 100g 3½ oz Almonds (ground)
  8. Classic mode Step 8

    Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the top with the back of a spoon, making a slight well in the middle of the cake.

  9. Classic mode Step 9

    Wrap the brown paper round the cake tin and tie with string. Bake the cake for 1 hour, then reduce the oven temperature to 140°C (120°C fan, 275°F, gas mark 1) and bake for 3 hours or until a skewer in the centre comes out clean. Cover the top loosely with foil if the cake is browning too much.

  10. Classic mode Step 10

    Remove the cake from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack (leave the baking paper on).

  11. Classic mode Step 11

    When cool wrap the cake in foil and store carefully. To feed the cake pierce the cake a few times with a skewer. Drizzle over 2 tbsp brandy, re-wrap and store. Repeat a few times.

  12. Classic mode Step 12

    To marzipan the cake, warm the apricot jam in a small pan or in the microwave, until melted and just warm. Remove all the paper from the cake and place on a cake board.

    Ingredients for this step

    • 2tbsp 2tbsp Apricot jam
  13. Classic mode Step 13

    Lightly knead a small piece of marzipan and use this to fill in the gaps between the cake and the board. Brush the warm jam over the top and sides of the cake .

    Ingredients for this step

    • 1kg 2¼ lb Marzipan
  14. Classic mode Step 14

    Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar and roll out the remaining marzipan into a circle or square large enough to cover the cake (about 35cm for a 23cm diameter round cake or 20cm square cake). Using the rolling pin, lift the marzipan and lay it over the cake. Ease it down the sides with your hands ensuring there are no air pockets.

    Ingredients for this step

    • Icing sugar for dusting (we use Silver Spoon)
  15. Classic mode Step 15

    Trim excess marzipan off the sides with a kitchen knife. Dust your hands with icing sugar and rub the cake lightly with your hands to ensure a smooth finish. If possible leave the marzipan to set and dry for 1 to 2 days at room temperature.

  16. Classic mode Step 16

    To ice the cake, brush the marzipaned cake lightly with a little alcohol or boiled water. Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar.

    Ingredients for this step

    • Icing sugar for dusting (we use Silver Spoon)
  17. Classic mode Step 17

    Lightly knead the icing and roll to thickness of 5mm thick and 35cm circle or square. Using the rolling pin, lift the icing and lay it over the cake. Push it down the sides with your hands ensuring there are no air pockets and gently easing out and folds or pleats.

  18. Classic mode Step 18

    Trim off the excess icing around the base with a sharp knife. Lightly dust with icing sugar then, using the palms of clean hands, make a polishing action over the icing to smooth the surface as much as possible.

    Ingredients for this step

    • Icing sugar for dusting (we use Silver Spoon)
  19. Classic mode Step 19

    Collect all the icing trimmings and knead until smooth. Roll out again to a 5mm thickness and using the cutter of your choice (snowflakes, stars, Christmas trees, snowman), cut a number of the shapes in various sizes. Brush the bottom of the shapes with boiled water and stick to the cake.

  20. Classic mode Step 20

    Decorate with a few silver balls. Again is possible leave the icing to set of 1-2 days.

    Ingredients for this step

    • Silver balls to decorate