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430Total Time
30Prep Time
4Bake Time
A little effort

Classic Christmas cake

3 Reviews

About the bake

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

430Total Time
30Prep Time
4Bake Time
A little effort


  1. 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.

  2. 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. Step 3:

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

  4. Step 4:

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

  5. Step 5:

    Sift the flour and mixed spice together.

  6. 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.

  7. Step 7:

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

  8. 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. 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. Step 10:

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

  11. 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. 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.

  13. 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 .

  14. 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.

  15. 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. 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.

  17. 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. 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.

  19. 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. Step 20:

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


  • For the cake

    • 1.25kg Dried mixed fruits
    • 100ml Brandy (or rum, plus extra for feeding)
    • 1 Orange(s) (juice and zest)
    • 1 Lemon(s) (juice and zest)
    • 125g Glacé cherries
    • 275g Allinson's Plain White Flour
    • 2 tsp Mixed spice
    • 225g Butter (unsalted) (softened)
    • 225g Billington's Unrefined Light Muscovado Sugar
    • 5 Egg(s) (free range) (large)
    • 100g Almonds (ground)
  • For the decoration

    • 1kg Marzipan
    • 1kg Sugar paste icing (white)
    • 2 tbsp Apricot Jam
    •  Silver balls (to decorate)
    •  Icing sugar (for dusting)

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