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Is traditional Christmas cake basically just fruit cake?


Nutrition Facts (per serving)
585 Calories
17g Fat
107g Carbs
7g Protein

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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 585
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 21%
Saturated Fat 10g 49%
Cholesterol 108mg 36%
Sodium 168mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 107g 39%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 75g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 74mg 6%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 571mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. For basic dietary guidance, 2,000 calories per day is utilized.

(Nutrition information is derived from an ingredient database and should be regarded as an estimate.)

Several aspects of a Christmas celebration in the United Kingdom remain constant, including the traditional Christmas cake. A traditional British Christmas would be incomplete without this traditional treat on the table. Making this cake may seem complex at first sight due to the large number of components, but it is really extremely simple. Before you begin mixing, prepare and weigh all of the ingredients and line the pan. The construction is simple. The rest is a test of endurance; the wait starts.

The cake needs a long, slow bake and a little TLC. It’s loaded with sweets, fruits, and brandy, and if the temperature rises too high, the exterior will burn while the interior will be undercooked. Also, the cake benefits immensely from lying on a sheet of newspaper in the oven; this insulates and protects the cake, allowing it to cook evenly. Avoid opening the oven door too often while it’s baking, since this may cause the cake to collapse.

Christmas cake should ideally be created at least two months before Christmas, allowing adequate time for the cake to be fed with brandy at regular intervals, which helps the cake develop. However, if you are making it closer to the holiday, you can be assured the cake will still taste as good, though it may not store as long as a mature one (the brandy helps keep it moist).

If you have time, soak the dried mixed fruits in a little more brandy the night before and continue with the recipe the following day for an even more moist cake.

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“This cake was excellent. Since my 9-inch cake pan was too shallow, I used a 9-inch springform pan, which was the correct size and worked well. Covering the pan with parchment was difficult, but paper clips held the paper in place while I knotted the rope. After 4 hours, it was properly cooked.”Traditional British Christmas cake slice on a white plate

  • 3 1/2 cups (525 grams) currants
  • 1 1/2 cups (225 grams) golden raisins/sultanas
  • 1 1/2 cups (225 grams) raisins
  • 3/4 cup (110 g) coarsely chopped mixed candied peel
  • 1 cup glace (candied) cherries, halved
  • 2 1/3 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 10 ounces (300 grams) butter, slightly softened
  • 1 1/3 cups (300 grams) soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons brandy, plus extra for feeding
  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Heat the oven to 300 F/150 C/Gas 2.

  3. Line a 9-inch deep cake pan with two layers of parchment or greaseproof paper. Wrap the exterior with a double ring of brown or newspaper paper. This works as an insulator, preventing the exterior of the cake from burning.

  4. Combine the currants, sultanas, raisins, candied peel, and cherries with the flour, salt, and spices in a large mixing basin.

  5. In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the lemon zest. Add the beaten egg gently, a little at a time, to the butter mixture, mixing thoroughly after each addition; otherwise, the mixture may curdle. If it does, just stir in a spoonful of flour to bring it back together. If it doesn’t, don’t fret; the cake will still be delicious.

  6. Fold in half of the flour and fruit into the egg and butter mixture, then repeat until completely integrated. Add the brandy.

  7. Make sure there are no air pockets in the cake batter before spooning it into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the surface with the back of a spoon and make a slight dip in the center—this will rise again during baking to create a smooth surface for icing the cake.

  8. Clean off any streaks of cake batter on the parchment with a paper towel so they don’t burn. (It won’t affect the cake; it just doesn’t smell good.)

  9. At the bottom of the oven, place the tin on a double layer of newspaper. If you have a gas oven, keep the paper away from the flame. Bake in preheated oven for 4 1/2 hours. After 2 1/2 hours, cover the pan with a second layer of parchment paper if the cake is browning too quickly.

  10. Check the cake after 4 1/2 hours. It should rise quickly and have a rich brown color all throughout. Put a skewer or fine knife into the middle of the cake; it should come out clean. Return the cake to the oven for a few minutes if the dough clings when you lift it.

  11. Cool the cake for an hour on a wire rack before removing it from the pan to cool fully. Next, using a stick or skewer, pierce the surface of the cake and gently pour in 2 to 3 tablespoons brandy. This feeding should be repeated every two weeks till Christmas.

  12. Refrigerate the cake in an airtight container coated in greaseproof or parchment paper until ready to serve. Enjoy!


  • The dessert pairs well with a drink of port. In northern England, Christmas cake is often served with a slice of cheese, preferably Wensleydale or a crumbly cheddar.
  • If you can’t find mixed spice or don’t have the components to create your own, you may use pumpkin pie spice mix. They’re very similar.
  • The distinction between raisins and sultanas is significant in the Christmas cake since each contributes something unique to the dessert.
  • Christmas cake is often prepared with brandy, although rum, whiskey, and sherry are all popular.
  • If you don’t have a deep 9-inch circular pan, a 9-by-3-inch springform pan will do.

Recipe Variations

  • Substitute finely grated orange zest for the lemon zest.
  • Add 3/4 to 1 cup finely chopped almonds (about 75 grams).
  • Replace the brandy with apple juice or fresh orange juice to make an alcohol-free cake.

Can You Freeze Christmas Cake?

  • Christmas cake freezes nicely, whether made ahead of time or preserved as leftovers. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then in heavy-duty foil. Put the frozen cake (or pieces) in zip-top freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • If the Christmas cake is frosted, first freeze the cake or portions before wrapping.
  • Defrost frozen wrapped Christmas cake for at least 4 hours or overnight at room temperature.

What’s the Difference Between Fruitcake and Christmas Cake?

These two classic Christmas baked delicacies might have very similar recipes. (And then there’s Christmas pudding, which confuses, too.) Christmas cake and fruitcake are commonly used interchangeably to describe the same thing: a cake containing candied dried fruits, a spicy-sweet taste profile, and the addition of an alcohol such as rum. The American kind of fruitcake, on the other hand, often varies dramatically from British Christmas cake, which is generally a moist, rich fruitcake wrapped in fondant and sometimes adorned festively for the holiday season. American fruitcake is often maligned because it’s often associated with the mass-produced types that line grocery store shelves; homemade fruitcake is far superior.