I tried the simplest recipe possible, it’s the ‘Boil & Bake’ style of Xmas/fruit cake. I used a Nigella Lawson recipe and made some changes based on the ingredients I had. Nothing can be simpler for a Christmas cake, try it.

Soaking fruits:

christmas cake

I started making Christmas cakes four years back and found them so easy to make. Made more during the year and discovered that soaking fruits for these cakes for 30-45 days was optimal, more than that made no difference to taste really. And just soaking for 5-10 days also works fine, fruits are just a bit less squishy but taste great.
Planning to soak fruits again for this year’s Christmas cake now.
I plan to use these dried fruits –
  • Prunes
  • Mixed candied fruits
  • Cranberries
  • Blueberries
  • Black currants
  • Black raisins
  • Raisins
  • Apricot
  • orange peels.

I don’t soak hard nuts like cashews/walnuts as they get soggy. If you are also planning to make the Christmas cake by the 2nd/3rd week Dec, then best to soak the fruits now.

Note :
  • 1 kg fruits would need a whole rum bottle to soak (750 ml). Can use either rum or brandy. 1 kg fruit after soaking will become approx 1.3-1.4 kg, this can make 5 cakes of 750-800 gm each.
  • The bigger fruits like apricots, prunes need to be chopped.
  • You may add some cinnamon sticks while soaking for added flavor.
  • No need to keep it in the fridge can just close it tightly (or cover it with cling-wrap and then put the lid). Put inside a cupboard and give a stir every week. Top with more liquor if looks dry (the fruits will soak up all liquor in the first 2 days and will have to add more and after that a little bit every week)


Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Christmas Cake recipe with some minor changes. You could also see her video ‘Nigella Lawson Christmas Cake2’ on Youtube, one feels more confident after seeing that, she makes it look so easy!

Ingredients (for approx 750 gms cake) :

  • 250 gms of soaked fruits (I had soaked prunes, raisins, currants, cranberries, apricots in rum, see link above for fruit soaking)
  • 2 tbsp orange marmalade with peels (I used my homemade marmalade instead of candied orange peels in the original recipe. The cake becomes moister if use marmalade)
  • 1 tbsp any dark jam (for the color, I used a blackberry jam, skip if don’t have, increase the honey portion by 1 tbsp)
  • 90 gms unsalted butter
  • 90 gms brown sugar
  • 60 ml honey
  • 60 ml liquor – Can use Rum/Brandy/Coffee liquor like Tia Maria (I used Old Monk rum).
  • Juice of 1.5 oranges (or 100 ml readymade Orange juice)
  • 1/2 tsp Spice powder (I ground nutmeg, Star-Anise, cinnamon, and cloves in equal quantities and used that).
  • 2 tbsp cocoa (this is for the dark color and adds some depth in taste)
  • Handful of chopped cashews & walnuts (Optional, it wasn’t there in Nigella’s recipe).
  • 2 eggs beaten (for eggless can use half cup applesauce. Or else half cup beaten yogurt but then cake cant be kept for longer if using yogurt)
  • 75 grams Refined flour (maida)
  • 40 gms ground almond powder (just grind the usual almonds in mixie, do it just once quickly else it will become sticky and start turning to butter).
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Method (see pics given below) :

1. Put the fruit, butter, sugar, honey, liquor, jams, orange juice, spice and cocoa in a saucepan and bring to the boil gently, stirring as the butter melts (use a large deep pan so can do full cake mixing in that only). Once it boils, simmer on medium heat for 8-10 minutes, keep stirring, and then take off the heat and leave to cool for 30 mins to an hour till cool (basically if its hot, egg will scramble when added).

2. Once the mix has cooled, add the beaten eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda, walnuts/cashews(if using) and mix well.

3. Preheat the oven to 150 C. Line a medium-sized tin (it’s better if a springform one, I used an 8-inch diameter which was large for this qty, use a 7 inch one to give the cake more height) with a double sheet of greased baking paper.

Also, make a circular tent around the baking tin of a double sheet of baking paper, just staple it to secure it (see the pic). The tent height should be 3-4 inches above the tin. This is to regulate the heat as the cake needs slow cooking.

4. Pour the mix in the tin, bake at 150 C for about 1 hr 30 mins to 1 hr 45 mins. Be patient, it will take that much time. After 1.5 hrs, insert a skewer into center of the cake and if it comes out clean it’s done else check again every 10-15 mins or so. If the top is already looking crispy, reduce temp to 140C.

5. Let the cake cool fully before cutting (will take 2-3 hrs to fully cool) else won’t be able to cut it neatly. (No one waited in my home and it’s crumbling while cutting !)

This cake can be stored in an airtight tin for a couple of weeks. One can also ‘feed’ the cake ie poke some thin holes with a toothpick and pour some rum on top of it every few days.

Tips & issues faced:

Sometimes the cake may come out dense and pudding-like. Could be many reasons for that, some I experienced are :
1. Firstly start with a new Baking soda and Baking powder and a good quality one. Since so less is used, eliminate any issues there.
2. Will need to see what Oven setting works best for you. This cake needs to bake long and slow. I use only a lower rod and no fan. If using an inbuilt oven, which is higher heat sometimes, bake it at 140 C.
3. If using disposable paper tin, it works fine without tenting too but then reduces baking time by 10-15 mins.
4. This recipe is already a halved recipe from the original, do not half it further and make it as is. If you want to split it into two tins, you are essentially halving it and may not work. Then increase baking powder and baking soda by a pinch and reduce baking time by 10-15 mins. You will need to experiment and see what works.
Step 1: Add fruits, butter, jams, sugar, cocoa, rum, and heat on medium heat
christmas cake
Step 2 – Cool this mix. Once cooled mix in the rest of the ingredients
Step 3 – Make a tent. This is needed to regulate the heat. And bake it.
christmas cake

This recipe was first published by Shefali in the Gurgaon Foodie Community