How to Make a Classic British Christmas Cake

No British holiday celebration is complete without this brandied fruit cake

Classic British Christmas Cake
Elaine Lemm
  • 01 of 08

    A Classic British Christmas Cake

    Christmas Cake Ingredients
    Elaine Lemm

    No British holiday is complete without a classic Christmas cake. Though this recipe may look complicated, it's actually quite approachable if you assemble and weigh all the ingredients and line the cake tin before you start.

    The cake can be made at least two months before Christmas for it to mature and to be fed with brandy earlier if you'd like. If you are making it later, don't worry—it will still taste delicious.

    For the cake, you will need:

    • 2 1/2 sticks butter (slightly softened)
    • 10 ounces soft brown sugar
    • 1/2 lemon (zested)
    • 6 large eggs (lightly beaten)
    • 18 ounces currants
    • 10 ounces all purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground)
    • Pinch salt
    • 8 ounces golden raisins/sultanas
    • 8 ounces raisins
    • 4 ounces mixed candied peel (finely chopped)
    • 6 ounces glace cherries (halved)
    • 3 tablespoons brandy (plus more for feeding)
    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Line the Cake Tin

    Line Christmas Cake Tins
    Elaine Lemm

    Line a 9-inch cake tin with two layers of parchment or greaseproof paper. Tie a double band of brown or newspaper paper around the outside. This acts as an insulator to prevent the cake from burning on the outside.

     

    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    Cream the Butter and Sugar

    Christmas Cake Eggs
    Elaine Lemm

    Using a stand or hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the lemon zest. Add the beaten eggs to the butter mixture a little bit at a time, beating well after each addition. Do not try to rush this process as the mixture could curdle. If it does curdle simply add a tablespoon of flour and mix again. This should bring the mixture back together. If it doesn't come back together, don't fret, the cake will still be delicious.

    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    The Cake Batter

    Christmas Cake Batter
    Elaine Lemm

    Once you have creamed together the butter, sugar and added the eggs, your mixture should be light, fluffy, and pale in color. 

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Combine the Flour, Spices, and Dried Fruit

    Christmas Cake Mix
    Elaine Lemm

    In a separate bowl, add the flour, spices, and salt to the dried fruits and stir really well making sure there is no flour at the bottom of the bowl.

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    Finish the Cake Batter

    Christmas Cake Batter and Fruit
    Elaine Lemm

    Carefully fold in half the flour and fruit into the egg and butter mixture. Once incorporated, repeat with the remaining flour and fruit. Finally, add the brandy.

     

    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Pour Batter Into the Tin

    Christmas Cake Ready for the Oven
    Elaine Lemm

    Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin, making sure there are no air pockets. Once filled, smooth the surface with the back of a spoon and make a slight dip in the center (this will rise back up again during cooking and create a smooth surface for icing the cake).

    Preheat the oven to 300 F. Bake in the center of the oven for 4 1/2 hours. If the cake is browning too rapidly, cover the tin with a double layer of greaseproof or parchment paper after 2 1/2 hours. During the cooking time, avoid opening the oven door too often as this may cause the cake to collapse.

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Leave to Cool

    Christmas Cake Cooling
    Elaine Lemm

    Set the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for an hour. Remove it from the tin, taking off the paper, and leave to cool completely.

    Once cooled, prick the surface of the cake with a fine metal skewer and slowly pour over 2 to 3 tablespoons of brandy. This feeding should be repeated every two weeks up until Christmas.

    The cake should be wrapped in greaseproof or parchment paper and stored in an airtight tin.

    If you like toice the Christmas cakeleave this for until a week or two before Christmas, or served as it is. It's delicious with a piece of Wensleydale Cheese.