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rich christmas cake

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

I have tried so many rich fruit cake recipes. In fact, for a few wedding cakes over the years, I've made multiple recipes for clients to try - with prunes, armagnac, every nut and fig you could imagine - and without fail, this one is the one they choose. And - it's adapted from a New Zealand classic, the Edmonds Cookbook! A stalwart of every Kiwi Household. I've included the amounts for a common household tin size. If you have another shape/size, let me know. I have calculations for most of them in a fancy Excel spreadsheet! I like to give my cakes a few months to mature and 'feed' them brandy every 10-14 days, so make sure you leave plenty of time before Christmas! Subscribe to the tutorials to find out how to decorate the cakes with marzipan and fondant.

I often double the batch (I mix each single batch separately due to the volume) and use a wonderful multisize cake tin by Alan Silverwood (this one) which allows me to batch-bake four 6-inch/15cm cakes plus an extra15cm round cake at a time. Particularly brilliant for Christmas presents!

You need: A 23cm/9in square or 25cm/10in round deep cake tin, lined with two layers of brown paper and one layer of baking parchment as the inside layer.

and make sure you have a very large mixing bowl! (I have this one and it's the perfect size)

1 ¾ cups/440mL cups orange juice (I always use freshly squeezed with bits)

¾ cup/190mL brandy

2 Tbsp grated orange rind

500g raisins

500g currants

350g sultanas

350g chopped dates

150g crystallised ginger, chopped

150g mixed peel

150g glacé cherries, halved

½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp natural almond extract

2 tsp grated lemon rind

1 cup whole blanched almonds

2 ½ cups high grade flour (NZ)/strong white bread flour (UK)

½ tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground nutmeg

250g butter (salted)

1 ½ cups/260g dark brown/muscovado sugar

2 Tbsp black treacle

5 large eggs

In a large saucepan, bring to the boil the orange juice, brandy and orange rind. Remove the pan from the heat and add all the dried fruit. Stir the vanilla and almond extracts, lemon rind and almonds in to the saucepan. Cover and leave the fruit to soak overnight. Sift the flour, soda and spices into a bowl. In the largest bowl, or a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and treacle until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the sifted ingredients alternately with the fruit mixture.

Line a deep, square 23cm tin with two layers of brown paper followed by one layer of baking parchment. Spoon mixture into tin. Bake at 150˚C for 4 hours or until an inserted skewer comes out clean or if you have a meat/candy thermometer, the internal temperature should be 97-98°C. While the cake is still hot, pour over ¼ cup brandy evenly over the cake. Leave in the tin until cold. When cool, wrap the cake in the brown paper and plenty of tinfoil. Store in a dry, cool place for at least four weeks before eating! The cake needs time to mature.

Watch my video on covering a fruit cake in marzipan and fondant by subscribing to my video tutorials

Maddy’s Tips:

  1. Bake in the lower half of the oven for even baking and to prevent the top burning – if you have a particularly hot oven, you can also lie a piece of baking parchment across the top and remove it after an hour or so.

  2. Always have the eggs at room temperature. Sometimes I find it easier to beat the eggs together and add them beaten, bit-by-bit instead of beating each one in. That seems to reduce the curdling! But don’t worry if it does curdle. It will still turn out well. You can beat in a few spoonfuls of flour to smooth it a bit.

  3. Pour at least ¼ cup brandy over the cake while still warm, then keep doing that every two-weeks (or every week)

Marzipan (makes 1.125kg - enough to cover one cake)


270g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

270g golden caster sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp pure almond extract

1 Tbsp brandy

525g ground almonds

a little icing sugar (to knead and roll)


Begin by sifting the icing sugar and caster sugar into a large, stainless steel bowl, then stir in the beaten eggs.

Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk constantly for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and fluffy. Then remove the bowl from the heat and sit the base in about 10cm of cold water. Whisk in the almond extract and brandy and continue to whisk until the mixture is cool.

At this point stir in the ground almonds and knead to form a firm paste on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Then roll out the amount needed on a clean surface dusted with icing sugar. Once it is rolled to the right size, cover the top of the cake, and refer to the tutorial for how to prepare the cake for covering!

Print Version:

Christmas Cake - Printable Version
Download • 57KB


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