One of my favorite parts of Christmas baking is the Christmas cake! There’s just nothing that can compare with the flavor of this rich, moist cake filled with festive dried fruit. 😋 It’s a tradition in my Canadian family to eat this cake throughout the holiday season, and it’s definitely one of the highlights of Christmas food for me! 🎄 Many of my American friends are not excited about fruitcake: the dry, flavorless store-bought cake that everyone gives as a joke gift. However, many Americans haven’t tried the dark, rich, and fruity homemade Christmas cake that I’ve grown up eating. I encourage you to give this recipe a try, and start a Christmas cake tradition of your own. It’s a labor of love that your family will look forward to each Christmas!
The most important thing to remember when making Christmas cake is to start early. Every good Christmas cake takes time to make, bake, and age for maximum flavor. It’s important to soak the dried fruit in brandy or rum overnight before using. A long, slow bake cooks the cake all the way through without burning the outside of the cake. Also, every Christmas cake has to age for at least 4 weeks before it can be eaten to allow time for the flavors to develop. Don’t worry: the cake will not spoil if it is well-wrapped and kept in a cool place, like a dark closet or a kitchen cupboard away from the stove and fridge. The alcohol and dried fruit act as preserving agents, so nothing will spoil as the cake ages. For long term storage, freeze leftover Christmas cake after it has aged. It can keep for at least a year in the freezer!
If you’d like to decorate your Christmas cake in the traditional British way, I have an article and recipes here. I love how the icing makes this cake a real Christmas showstopper! Make sure to start decorating your Christmas cake about a week before you’d like to serve it, as the marzipan and icing need time to dry out before the cake is served. If you’re short on time, serve the cake without decoration, and everyone will still love it.
If you have a small family, and want to make a smaller batch of Christmas cake, feel free to half the recipe. Also, instead of baking the cake in a 9-inch springform cake pan, you can bake the cake mixture in 2 loaf pans.
Are you excited about starting a Christmas cake tradition in your own family? I hope you all will love this recipe as much as I do!
Ever wanted to make your own Christmas cake? Here’s a fruit-filled, classic recipe that’s sure to spruce up any Christmas celebration.
For the Fruit Mixture
- 175g red glace cherries, halved
- 175g green glace cherries, halved
- 80g candied pineapple
- 142 g blanched almonds, roughly chopped
- 135g raisins
- 425g golden raisins (sultanas)
- 283g dried currants
- 160g mixed peel
- 130 ml brandy or white rum, plus more for feeding
For the Cake Pan
- 1-2 tablespoons butter, softened
For the Cake Batter
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 250g light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 250g all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice
Preparing the Fruit Mixture (1 hour + overnight soaking)
- Halve the red and green cherries, rinse them well in a sieve under warm running water, and dry thoroughly with paper towel.
- Chop the candied pineapple into smaller pieces and rinse and dry them well, as with the cherries.
- Roughly chop the almonds.
- Pour the raisins, golden raisins, and currants into a large bowl and break up any clumps. Add the red and green cherries, pineapple, mixed peel, and chopped almonds. Pour in 100 ml of brandy and stir everything very well.
- Cover the bowl of fruit with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and let stand overnight so the fruit can absorb the brandy. Stir the fruit in the morning, and then again before adding to the cake batter.
Preparing the Cake Pan (10 minutes)
- Lightly grease a round, 9-inch springform pan with softened butter.
- Double-line the base and sides of the pan with parchment paper or brown paper. Make sure the paper around the sides of the pan is twice as tall as the pan. This will help the cake not to burn while baking.
Making the Cake Batter (25 minutes)
- Preheat the oven to 275 F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the softened butter until creamy. Beat in the brown sugar, eggs, molasses, vanilla extract, almond extract, and four tablespoons of the flour to prevent the mixture from curdling. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to get an even mix.
- Once the mixture is very well blended, dump in the flour and mixed spice and mix thoroughly.
- Add the fruit mixture and stir very thoroughly by hand.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, making sure the batter gets into the corners of the pan. Smooth the surface.
Baking the Christmas Cake (about 4 hours)
- Bake at 275 F for 4 to 4 1/2 hours, checking after 2 hours of baking. For the first two hours of baking, put a large pan of warm water in the oven with the cake to help it stay moist. Once the cake has browned enough, cover its top with aluminum foil.
- To check if the cake is baked, insert a metal skewer into its center. Hold the skewer there for a second, then slowly remove it. It should be perfectly clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan until it is completely cold.
Feeding the Christmas Cake (10 minutes)
- Once the cake has fully cooled, poke several holes in the cake with a metal skewer. Brush two tablespoons of brandy on its top. This is called “feeding” the Christmas cake.
- Let the cake stand until the brandy has been fully absorbed, then remove the cake from the pan, leaving the lining paper on, and cover with aluminum foil.
- Store the cake in a cool place for at least 4 weeks before eating. Every 2 weeks, brush 2 tablespoons of brandy on the top of the cake. It will keep in a cool place for up to 3 months.
- To serve, slice the cake into thin wedges and display on a festive plate.
- If you have a small family, and want to make a smaller batch of Christmas cake, feel free to half the recipe. Also, instead of baking the cake in a 9-inch springform cake pan, you can bake the cake mixture in 2 loaf pans.
- There’s no need to use parchment paper to line the cake pan. Brown paper or packing paper works just as well.
- For long-term storage, freeze the cake wrapped in aluminum foil and put in a plastic freezer bag after it has aged for at least 4 weeks.
- If you’d like to decorate the Christmas cake before serving, please refer to my post on how to decorate a Christmas cake, which will be coming soon.