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How to make the ultimate Christmas cake

I’m not sure about you, but with all the overindulging we do over Christmas, we’re always left with Christmas cake going into the New Year. This recipe makes the perfect amount for two smaller cakes – one for you and one for a friend. Spread the love this Christmas.

Festive Christmas cake

You will need 2 x 15cm/6in round loose-bottomed cake tins

Each cake serves 12



For the cakes
  • 300g/10½ oz sultanas
  • 150g/5oz currants
  • 150g/5oz raisins
  • 100g/3½ oz dried apricots
  • 200g/7oz cranberries
  • 50g/1½ oz glacé cherries
  • 50g/1½ oz mixed peel
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 170ml/6fl oz sherry
  • 250g/9oz unsalted butter,
  • plus extra for greasing
  • 250g/9oz soft brown sugar
  • 1½  tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 220g/7½ oz plain flour
  • 1½ tsp ground mixed spice
  • 120g/4oz nuts, I use a mix of pecans,
  • almonds and Brazil nuts
To decorate
  • Apricot jam
  • Pack of ready-to-roll marzipan
  • Pack of ready-to-roll white icing
  • Icing sugar, to dust


  1. Chop all the larger dried fruit and add to a bowl with the smaller fruits. Add the orange juice, zest and alcohol, then mix well and cover with a clean tea towel overnight to plump up.
  2. The following day, grease and double line the cake tins, and wrap the outside of the tins with newspaper secured with string.
  3. Preheat the ovento 160°C (140°C fan oven) Gas 3.
  4. Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs together, then add the flour and mixed spice and thoroughly mix. Add the fruits and any liquid from the bowl, mix in the chopped nuts then divide equally between the two tins. Level the tops with a spatula and bake for 1½ hours.
  5. Reduce the heat to 140°C (120°C fan oven) Gas 1 and bake for a further 1–1¼ hours until baked, or check with a skewer.
  6. Leave the cakes to cool completely in the tins, then wrap in foil and store in the cupboard until ready to decorate. If you want to feed your cake in the lead-up to Christmas, unwrap the cake, poke holes all over the top with a cocktail stick and drizzle with your chosen alcohol.
  7. I decorate my Christmas cakes a week before eating, by warming a little apricot jam and brushing a thin layer on the top and sides of the cake. Roll out the marzipan on a worktop lightly dusted with icing sugar and, using the rolling pin to help, lift the marzipan onto the cake, smoothing the top and sides. Repeat with the rolled fondant icing and decorate the cake as you wish.

If the tops of the cakes are browning too quickly, cover them loosely with foil.