Classic Christmas cake

  • Total Time

    4h 30m
    • Prep Time

    • Bake Time

      4h 0m
  • Serves


  • Skill Level

  • 2 Reviews

    4 star rating

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


  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.

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

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

  5. Sift the flour and mixed spice together.

  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.

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

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

  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.

    Top Tip: How to Feed a Christmas Cake
  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.

  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 .

  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.

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

  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. 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.

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

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  1. 5 star rating

    How many weeks or months before Christmas can this be made
    Thank you

    It's best to get baking around two or three months before Christmas. This gives you plenty of time to let it mature and 'feed' your Christmas Cake regularly.

    Happy Baking!

  2. 3 star rating

    I would like to make this Christmas cake but much smaller. Could I halve the ingredients and if so, what size tin should I use and how long would it take to bake?
    Thank you


    Hi Kathleen,

    This Christmas Cake recipe has been created for a 9 inch round tin - if you were to halve the ingredients then you would probably need to bake in a 6 or 7 inch tin. We would initially recommend baking the cake for 2/2.5 hours and then check whether it is cooked throughout by inserting a skewer into the center of the cake. If mixture appears on the skewer when it is removed then it needs to be baked for longer. Bake for a further 15/20 minutes then repeat the process with the skewer until it is baked. If the cake begins to brown before it is baked throughout cover it loosely with a layer of baking paper to avoid it burning. We hope that helps.

    Happy Baking,

    The Baking Mad Team

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