I love making Christmas cakes. This year I have been about 6-8 weeks behind schedule in my Christmas cake making. Usually I like to make them in the spring school holidays but I am going to blame the fatigue and sickness associated with my pregnancy for my Christmas cake making delay.

I made two cakes this year. I chose to make two because we have a lot of guests coming this summer, both before and after our baby is born, and I like the idea of sitting around, either patting my fat belly or smiling at my newborn, drinking tea and eating Christmas cake and talking with my friends and family. Does that not sound like the perfect way to spend time? To me it does, anyway.

And over the years I have kind of “invented” my own recipe for Christmas cake. Usually this sort of thing comes about because I lack ingredients due to my disorganisation; the recipe I’m following includes stuff my children don’t like; I make a mistake; or I combine things I like from different recipes. I can’t tell you how many different recipes I’ve used to get to ‘my’ recipe, but I know this is a pretty delicious cake!

Christmas Cake


1kg mixed dried fruit
1/2 cup brandy
2/3 cup slivered almonds
1 cup glacé cherries* (optional)
250g softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
5-6 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup SRF
1 tsp mixed spice**
1 Tbsp cocoa
1 Tbsp instant coffee***
1/3 cup hot water

* you can chop cherries or leave them whole
** also add 1 tsp or cinnamon and nutmeg if you like spice
*** or make a shot of espresso and mix cocoa into it, omitting the hot water


~ mix brandy in with dried fruit. Get all members to stir the mixture for good luck (a tradition from my family) and leave in a cool spot to soak for a week, stirring every day
~ preheat oven to 130 degrees
~ beat butter and sugar together
~ add eggs and beat well
~ meanwhile, add almonds and cherries (if using) to the fruit mixture and get a child or somebody to mix them in well
~ add butter mixture to fruit mixture – you need a big bowl for this cake mixture – and mix well
~ mix coffee and cocoa with the hot water and add it to the fruit mixture, stirring well
~ add sifted dry ingredients to the fruit mixture and mix well
~ spread cake into a large (eg 24cm) round or square baking dish that is greased well and lined with several (eg 3-4) layers of baking paper
~ bake for 3 hours
~ leave overnight to cool in the pan
~ transfer onto cooling tray and leave to cool completely before wrapping it in glad wrap and foil or placing in an airtight container and leaving to age until Christmas – a couple of months is best but mine will be ageing for 6 weeks before Christmas
~ every now and then, brush the cake with a bit of brandy

Other options:
~ place a neat design of almonds or Brazil nuts atop the cake before baking
~ ice the cake with marzipan and hard icing for a traditional cake
~ decorate the cake top with glacé fruit before baking
~ omit coffee and cocoa
~ for a little gift, bake small individual cakes in tiny pans, or even muffin tins – they will not need long to bake