Whether you are in November and thinking about baking your Christmas cake so it has time for the flavours to develop, or whether its Christmas Eve and you are rushing to get everything done, then this recipe will provide you with a delicious Christmas fruitcake. 

The process of cooking many of the ingredients in a saucepan before baking, speeds up the flavour development in the cake and helps to keep the cake lovely and moist. 

Heather Brown - food writer, stylist and home economist - christmas cake


  • 10oz currants

  • 12oz sultanas

  • 3oz dried cherries

  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)

  • 1 orange (zest and juice)

  • 2tbsp rum (spiced rum works really well here but you can also use sherry or brandy)

  • 1tsp mixed spice

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1tbsp marmalade (or cherry jam)

  • 5oz butter

  • 6oz soft brown sugar

  • 4 eggs

  • 7oz plain flour


In a large saucepan add the currants, sultanas, dried cherries, orange zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, rum, mixed spice, cinnamon, jam or marmalade, butter and sugar. Cook together on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly so that it doesn't burn on the bottom and all the sugar and butter melt and coat the fruit. Take off the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes. 

Whilst the ingredients are cooling, spend some time lining your 8″ round tin. Line the insides with 2 good layers of baking parchment. Then take some brown paper and line the outside of the tin and tie with string to secure. You can also make a ‘hat’ for the cake out of baking parchment to protect the top but cut a hole in the centre to allow the steam to escape. It can be fiddly to line the tine so much but the cake cooks for a long time in the oven and all the layers of paper help not to scorch the top and sides of the cake before the centre is cooked.

Preheat the oven to 140/gas mark 1.

Once the fruit mixture has cooled a little, carefully add in the eggs. Then stir in the flour.

Place the mixture in the tin, place in the oven and then bake for 2.5 hours. Check the cake every 30 minutes after the initial 2.5 hours, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin.


Once cold, the cake can be covered with a layer of marzipan and icing ready for Christmas Day. If you have made the cake in advance, once the cake is cold, wrap the cake in a layer of baking parchment, a layer of foil and place in an airtight container. You can bake up to 3 months in advance and kept in this way. About 1 week before Christmas, when you can ice the cake however you fancy. If you would like to – every 2 weeks, poke the cake a number of times with a skewer and spoon over some more rum. This is called ‘feeding’ the cake (and it also makes the cake slightly alcoholic so be careful if you know children will be eating the cake!).