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Family Kitchen- Christmas Cake



I am that organised. I have made our Christmas cakes already. I have not done this just to feel smug but because these beauts do benefit from a spot of aging and some regular drowning in brandy. Christmas cake is actually fierce easy to make. It does however take quite a bit of time but that’s mostly in the preparation of the dried fruit. Although I must admit that the lining of the tins can be a pain in the…

Also, this recipe is extensive but let there be no panic, most all of the items may be substituted if you can’t find the right ones.

Finally, don’t waste this opportunity to make a wish. Once all the ingredients have been added to the bowl any women of the household may make a wish as she stirs the mixture three times. Don’t be asking me for the reasoning or the legitimacy of it, it’s just what we do.

The original recipe is by Nigel Slater and makes enough batter for at least 87 horse sized cakes so I’ve altered the quantities to make a fairly substantial 23cm cake.


Serves: 10 people


210g Butter

105g Dark Muscavado Sugar

105g Light Muscavado Sugar

3 Eggs

75g Dates

75g Dried Cranberries

150g Glacé Cherries

120g Dried Apricots

90g Prunes

60g Candied Peel

150g Raisins

150g Sultanas

90g Hazelnuts/almonds/walnuts

Zest & juice of a lemon and orange

3 tbs Brandy

60g Ground Almonds

1/2 tsp Ground Mace

1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

210g Plain Flour


1. Preheat the oven to 170C  and line the tin. The tin needs some extra attention this time. You’ll need to line it with two layers of baking parchment, this prevents the cake drying out when it’s in the oven for ages. If you need a recap on how to line a round tin then click here.

2. Put the butter, preferably at room temperature, into a very large mixing bowl and add in the sugars. Beat for a few minutes to make sure it’s all well and truly combined. Crack in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Leave the bowl to one side.

well on our way
well on our way

3. Now prepare the fruit. After you weigh each kind chop them, if necessary, into small chunks before adding them to a second mixing bowl. Things that’ll need chopping include the apricots and dates and things of that size. Add in the lemon and orange and brandy and stir to combine. Now leave that bowl to the side too.

4. To a third mixing bowl add the ground almonds, mace, cinnamon, baking powder and flour. Mix it all together.

I had to crop this one so the chaos of mum's kitchen wasn't visible
I had to crop this one so the chaos of mum’s kitchen wasn’t visible – also, ignore the number of eggs and the bowl in the top left is just the butter and sugar prior to beating

5. Now to combine everything. Pour all of your fruit and nuts into the buttery egg mix and stir well. Then tip the spicy flour mix into the fruity mix and stir some more. This takes a substantial amount of elbow grease and preferably a wish from a woman.

all wished up and ready
all wished up and ready

6. Tip the batter into the prepared tin and smooth down the top. Pop it into the oven.

7. After an hour turn the oven down to 150 Celsius. You might need to cover the top with foil to stop it browning too much. Then keep baking for another 2hrs.

8. The cake should be well firm and a skewer should come out more or less clean. Take it out of the oven and let it cool down completely in the tin.

9.Once cooled remove it from the tin, take off all of the greaseproof paper except for one of the disks on the base and wrap it first in fresh greaseproof paper and then in foil.

Put it somewhere safe and go have a cup of tea whilst feeling suitably smug. Every week or so, unwrap the cake, pierce it a few time with a cocktail stick or the like and drizzle over a few tablespoons of brandy then re-wrap and hide it away again. That’s it done till it’s time to decorate it.



For more delicious recipes from Muireann visit her website

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