Food & Drink

The ultimate Christmas cake recipe

A Christmas cake is an absolute must-have at the dinner table over the festive season. Christmas cake lasts ages, too, meaning you could extend your memories of the festive season will last into January, if not beyond!

 - 6 Min Read
Last updated and fact checked:
The ultimate Christmas cake recipe
  • Don’t be scared to experiment with different garnishes and flavours. This Christmas cake is yours, after all.
  • Christmas cake is the ultimate Christmas dish and a must-serve if you're hosting a Christmas dinner.
  • Always leave icing your cake until the day of serving for the best results.


  • Which fruits should I add to my Christmas cake?

    Essential fruit ingredients to add to your shopping list include raisins, glace cherries, currants and prunes or figs. However, you should try to spice up your recipe with other ingredients like cranberries and sultanas.

  • How long does Christmas cake last?

    Christmas cake lasts ages because of all the sugar and alcohol that usually goes into it. Most recipes can last up to a year and a half, and the cake is great served with stilton and fig preserve.

  • How do I store my Christmas cake?

    You should always keep your Christmas cake in an airtight container and away from direct sunlight. You don’t have to keep it in the fridge, but a cool dark place is best.

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Age Times. Commissions do not affect our writers’ or editors’ opinions or evaluations. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Christmas is all about drinks by the fire, fantastic roast dinners and, of course, a classic Christmas cake packed with mixed fruit! With Christmas fast approaching, you'll want to start on that scrumptious dessert soon. Everyone knows the longer a Christmas cake has to brew in all those delicious ingredients, the better. So here is the ultimate guide to making your Christmas cake!

Frustrated with food waste or don't know where to start with a shopping list? Try a food subscription box to wash those worries away and put your diet - and finances - on the right track!

The ultimate Christmas cake recipe

Like any dish, a Christmas cake should be a personal creation. Made with your loving touch, this Christmas cake will make dessert more special and inevitably delicious! You can decide which flavours you want to come through in the dish, so choose your spices, liquor and fruit to suit your taste. Adding alternative ingredients like cranberries, sultanas, and black treacle will spice up any traditional Christmas cake recipe.


  • 1kg mixed dried fruit - make sure the mix contains raisins, glace cherries, currants and prunes or figs
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 300ml brandy - you can also use sherry, rum, or whisky
  • 250g unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 250g muscovado sugar - light or dark, the choice is yours!
  • 4 large eggs
  • 175g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp mixed spice (we recommend ground ginger, ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg and cloves)
  • 100g blanched and flaked or ground almonds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


1) Mix the dried fruit, orange zest, lemon zest, 150ml of the brandy, slightly softened butter, and muscovado sugar in a large pan.

2) Set the pan on medium heat and bring it to the boil.

3) Once the mixture is boiling, turn the heat down and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

4) After 5 minutes, tip the mix into another large bowl and cool for half an hour.

5) Preheat the oven to 150C, or 130C with fan assist. For gas ovens, use gas mark 2.

6) Line a 20cm prepared tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper or baking parchment.

7) For extra flavour and stick-proofing, grease the paper with butter.

8) In the same bowl as the cooling fruit mixture, add the plain flour, ground almonds, baking powder, mixed spice, eggs and vanilla extract.

9) Stir the mixture well to ensure no air pockets or lumps of flour.

10) Add the whole mix to the prepared cake tin. Use a spatula to get all the mixture out of the bowl.

11) Put the tin in the oven for 2 hours of cooking time.

12) Remove the cake from the oven.

13) After 10 mins of resting, use a skewer to poke small holes into the cake.

14) Pour the remaining brandy over the cake and leave it to stand until it completely cools down.

15) Remove the baking paper.

16) Store the cake in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Every two weeks, drizzle 1-2 tbsp of your selected brandy over the cake to ensure it keeps until you can finally cover and ice it! Why not infuse your brandy with some orange juice for a sweeter citrus flavour?

Covering and icing

Covering the cake in another fruity glaze is a vital part of the Christmas cake process. This truly is a labour of love and Christmas spirit! The coating should be added to the cake about a week before Christmas Day, allowing more fruity goodness to soak into the cake before your guests tuck in! Of course, you can always add some candied peel as a garnish to your fruit cake recipe.

Ingredients for the covering

  • 3 tbsp apricot jam (or peach jam or marmalade)
  • Enough icing sugar for dusting
  • 675g marzipan


1) Wait until a week before Christmas Day to start the covering.

2) On a cake board or clean surface, turn the cake upside down, so the flat side faces up.

3) Warm the sieved jam in a saucepan on low heat. 

4) Brush the sides and top of the cake with the jam, making sure it covers the entire surface of the cake. 

5) Dust a clean surface with the icing sugar.

6) Using a rolling pin, roll out the marzipan to about 5cm larger than the whole surface of the cake. In other words, the marzipan should be big enough to cover the surface of the cake entirely.

7) Lift the marzipan carefully over the cake using the same rolling pin.

8) Smooth the marzipan over the cake, making sure there are no creases in the covering. The best way to do this is to start from the top and work your way down the sides of the cake.

9) Trim any excess with a sharp knife by neatly cutting around the base of the cake.

10) Cover the cake with baking paper and leave it to dry until you ice it.

The icing is the classic best-for-last ingredient for this Christmas recipe. You will only have to ice and decorate your cake on the day of serving. We've gone with a lemon glaze and drippy icing, but feel free to play with other flavours. Another popular icing is royal icing, which requires glycerine. These simple steps will give you the best covering and icing for your festive showstopper.

Ingredients for the icing

  • 210 g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp plain yoghurt


1) In a bowl, whisk the ingredients together until smooth.

2) Test the thickness on the side of the bowl. You can gradually add yoghurt if the icing is too thick.

3) Place your cake onto a baking rack or something that will allow the icing to drip through without accumulating at the base.

4) Pour the glaze into the middle of the cake. Gently spread it towards the perimeter so that it drips down the sides. 

5) Allow the icing to settle for 1 hour before putting it onto the final serving platter.

6) Serve and enjoy!

The best Christmas cake is served!

And just like that, Christmas day is here, and your spectacular Christmas cake is ready for serving! It's also always fun to decorate your cake with fun figures or extra dried fruits and nuts. Holly and other festive plants also make great garnishes - not to be eaten, of course. With this recipe and all the love you put in, you’re bound to have a Christmas to remember and a cake that will leave your guests talking about it as one of their favourites for years to come!

We spoke to Lynn Clark from Ink Sugar Spice, who had this additional tip for Age Times readers: "Why not change up the brandy for the cake this year? Amaretto, sloe gin, cherry brandy or limoncello all work wonderfully.

"For a real vintage treat (and one that's still common in the North East), try eating a piece of strong cheese with your slice of cake."

See More