Simon Brown’s delicious Christmas cake recipe


Simon Brown

As we kick our Christmas preparations into gear, we thought it was the right time to bring you this fabulous festive recipe from our man in the kitchen.

Simon Brown, our cook's essentials expert, says ''October is the perfect time to make your Christmas cake so that it has time to mature and develop a rich, delicious flavour before the big day.''

Here's Simon's delicious recipe that you can prepare in advance and so help to avoid the stress of baking it during the busy festive period…

Traditional dark Christmas cake

400g (14oz) currants
200g (7oz) raisins
200g (7oz) sultanas
50g (2oz) glacé cherries – rinsed, dried and quartered
3tbsp brandy, plus extra for ‘feeding’ if desired
225g (8oz) dark muscovado sugar
225 g (8oz) butter
4 large eggs, beaten
225g (8oz) plain flour, sieved
½ tsp ground mixed spice
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
50g (2oz) mixed candied peel, roughly chopped
50g (2oz) whole unblanched almonds, roughly chopped
½ tbsp black treacle
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon


1. In a large bowl, mix together the fruit and brandy, cover and leave in a cool place overnight to soak.

2. Line a 20 cm (8") round or 17.5 cm (7") square cake tin with greaseproof paper and grease well.  Tie a double layer of brown paper around the tin. 

3. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy (a table mixer is good for this to save your wrists!). Now add the beaten eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. 

4. Next, gently fold in the sieved flour and the spices and then fold in the soaked fruit and any remaining liquid from the bowl, plus the peel, nuts, treacle and orange and lemon zests. Carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, level the surface, then gently form a shallow hollow in the centre of the cake so that it can rise but still have a fairly flat top for icing. Loosely cover the tin with greaseproof paper.

5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 140C/275F/Gas mark 1 for 4½ to 5 hours until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

6. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for about half an hour then transfer it to a wire rack and leave until completely cold. Now wrap the cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper, place in a Lock & Lock or airtight container and store in a cool, dark place until ready to decorate. 

7. If you wish, you can ‘feed’ the cake on a weekly basis by unwrapping it and piercing holes in the surface with a skewer then spooning over a couple of tablespoons of brandy which soaks in and adds to the richness.



  1. Eileen Taylor October 22, 2010 at 9:22 am -  Reply

    Brillant foolproof recipe I have been using it for years passed down to me by my mother in law about 30 years ago. I usually use groung almonds instead of whole unblanched almonds.I do feed the cake about once a week until I decorate it hence lovely and moist and tasty!!

  2. Hazel Settle October 24, 2010 at 12:31 am -  Reply

    Hi Simon. Have baked my Deliah Christmas Cake tonight. Kitchen smells Devine. Just need to feed it Brandy for a few weeks now before icing during Christmas week. Yummy thats all I can say. X

  3. Sharon Gasparutti October 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm -  Reply

    I like the sound of the recipe for the Christmas cake, however I’d normally use self raising flour instead of plain I’d just like to know why and what’s your reason for not using plain and not self raising.

  4. brenda murray October 25, 2010 at 3:18 pm -  Reply

    this sounds lovely will be getting ingredients next time we go shopping.

  5. Janet October 25, 2010 at 5:37 pm -  Reply

    Recipe is very similar to the one that I use which was passed down from grandma, except I use 3-4 tablespoons of mincemeat and deduct 4-5 ounces of the dried fruit. This makes cake lovely and moist.Yummie can’t wait.
    regards and Merry Christmas

  6. Margaret October 30, 2010 at 12:51 am -  Reply

    Lovely but why no ground cloves a must have in a rich Christmas cake.

  7. bethy October 30, 2010 at 9:37 pm -  Reply

    Have bought all my ingredients today.Unfortunately couldn’t find a small bottle of brandy.Scshame ….Hic !

  8. DAVID ARISS November 3, 2010 at 10:23 pm -  Reply

    Hi All ,
    Are you doing a cook book with all lovly cake recipes.

  9. LARGY November 5, 2010 at 6:05 pm -  Reply


  10. Jan T. November 6, 2010 at 8:18 pm -  Reply

    Never having made a xmas cake for years, when Simon’s recipe came through on email I thought I’d give it a go. Made it this week and it looks delicious and just perfect! Will have to be strong not to cut a slice before next month! Might have a go at a xmas pud next week! Thanks Simon!

  11. Diane November 10, 2010 at 8:04 pm -  Reply

    Hi, I have made the christmas cake and looks and smells yummy, my kitchen smelt very seasonal!! can’t wait to taste it. Thankyou.

  12. Frances Maxwell November 12, 2010 at 4:59 pm -  Reply

    Made my cake 2 weeks ago. Receipe almost the same apart from the treacle. Feeding it brandy every week. Next year may try the tip above about using some mincemeat and cutting back on the dried fruit. I’ll bet all the cakes will be delicious!

  13. Andi Beeson November 14, 2010 at 1:08 pm -  Reply

    An answer to Sharon about plain vs self raising flour. It’s better to use plain for a rich cake such as this that is intended for keeping. Using raising agent in a recipe with that quantity of fruit and low cooking temperature means that the ‘cake’ part would melt then rise and the fruit would sink to the bottom. A lighter cake made nearer the time and not intended for keeping and with less fruit needs raising agent for a lighter texture. This is a good, balanced recipe for a rich fruit cake that is absolutely best made well in advance and kept and fed and you can vary it to your own personal taste very easily.
    If you don’t want to feed it with alcohol, boil 1/2 pint of apple juice to reduce to half, add a splash of prune juice if wanted, then cool and store in a jar and use that to feed the cake.

  14. Debra Oldfield November 15, 2010 at 2:56 pm -  Reply

    Hi just made my cake. didnt put peel or cherries in but added more fruit and nuts, which i soaked in brandy for 3 weeks.
    NOW THAT SMELLS GREAT. better than drinking the brandy.
    I split the mixture into 2 loaf tins,one for us and the other i will cut in half and decorate for a gift to my mum and neighbour as they live on there own. but first i will gice it a small tipple of brandy before i decorate.

  15. cello08 November 27, 2010 at 10:25 am -  Reply

    hi everyone this recipe is almost thre same as my mothers cake except theres is an ingredient missing a grated carrot this keeps the cake moist. i have spoken to other friends with their grand’s and mother’s recipes and they contains the carrot for the christmas cake recipe.I am sure that simon’s recipe plus the carrot will be lovely happy cooking and a mery christmas to all.

  16. Pamela Simpson December 5, 2010 at 12:07 am -  Reply

    I have tried this receipe and the cake cracked on top.
    I have a fan oven so 140 may be to hot?.
    I tested the cake after 3 1/2 hours and scewer can out clean.

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