Tis the season to be jolly…but I’m just not feeling it this year! I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the lack of snow and unseasonably warm weather, work stress or perhaps the fact that I spent over 10-days with workman who tore apart my bathroom. That is story for another time and preferably with a large slice of MilkHoney’s Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce.

In any case I haven’t even put up my tree. Bah Humbug! Anyway with the workmen still underfoot I attempted to make a Christmas Cake in the hopes it would get me in a festive spirit. I do love a good fruit cake and this recipe from James Martin is really easy.

The cake itself has come out very well (pictures of cooked cake a bit later), despite a slight error when mixing the ingredients. For some reason I decided to mix all the remaining ingredients together before adding them to the fruit mixture. It doesn’t seem to have affected the cake at all – yes I tasted a few crumbs!

Now begins the regular feeding of brandy. I am doing a bit more feeding than the recipe calls for but I like a boozy cake and I also didn’t give myself enough time to give it a proper ‘soaking’ before Christmas. The next challenge will be to ice it with marzipan (actually the first challenge will be not eating the marzipan straight out of the packet!) I will post pictures of the cooked cake and a brandy feeding a bit later.

I still don’t feel in a Christmas frame of mind, but I’m sure this cake will help.



  • 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 150ml brandy, sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding
  • 250g pack butter softened
  • 200g light soft brown sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 100g ground almond (I didn’t have this so left it out)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 100g flaked almond (I didn’t have these either so left them out)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Put the dried fruit, zests and juice, alcohol, butter and sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes
  2. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 minutes
  3. Heat oven to 150°C / 130°C fan /gas mark 2
  4. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure (Note: I didn’t have a clue about this so just ignored it – I made my cake in a bundt tin without newspaper or string)
  5. Add the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour.  (I added the remaining ingredients together and then added them to the fruit mixture)
  6. Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hours
  7. Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 Tablespoons of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin
  8. To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 Tablespoon alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it (I’m feeding it 2-3 times a week)
  9. Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.

Ingredients at the ready – I made the mistake of using easy peeler oranges which resulted in more mess than juice and zest

Beautiful colours and it smells like Christmas!

Using a bundt pan for this cake

Oooops! I mixed the remaining ingredients together rather then adding them separately to the fruit mixture

The consistency seems okay

I will post again with the cooked cake and show the feeding of the brandy… So far I am pleased with how everything has turned out. Maybe I will get in the Christmas spirit after all!