It isn’t Christmas without walking into the kitchen to the heady aroma of brandy-soaked fruit. The comfort of knowing there is a slice of unctuous Christmas cake in the tin when you come home from a cold winter walk is a thing of beauty.

Serves: 16

Cooking time: 3 hrs plus overnight soaking

NOTE: for best results, you should store the cake for up to 3 months after baking


For the cake:

  • 600g/3 cups raisins or sultanas
  • 150g/¾ cup glacé cherries, halved
  • 150g/¾ cup chopped mixed candied peel
  • 225ml/8 fl oz sherry or brandy or your favourite tipple, plus extra for feeding
  • 225g/scant 1 cup Ivy’s Reserve Farmhouse Butter, at room temperature
  • 225g/1¼ cups soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 orange, zest only
  • 75g/⅔ cup ground almonds/almond flour
  • 260g/scant 2¼ cups plain flour/all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g/⅔ cup mixed nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts), roughly chopped

For the icing:

  • 2 tbsp smooth apricot jam
  • 250g/ 8.8oz marzipan
  • 250g/8.8oz ready-to-roll fondant icing

Cake topper decorations, ribbon, greenery

Try it with...



  1. Tip the dried fruit into a bowl, pour over the sherry or brandy. Mix, cover and leave overnight to soak.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/320°F. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm/8 inch round deep, springform cake tin.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer or with an electric whisk for 3-4 minutes, until light and creamy. Add the black treacle and mix again to incorporate. Add the eggs in, one at a time, beating well in between. Grate in the orange zest along with the ground almonds and sieve over the plain flour and spices. Add the chopped almonds and mix everything together.
  4. Transfer just under half of the soaked fruit into a food processor and blitz to a purée. Tip this into the cake mix along with the whole soaked fruit. Stir well to incorporate.
  5. Spoon the cake mix into the cake tin and smooth out the top. Bake in the oven for 2-2½ hours, until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
  6. Poke some holes in the top of the cooled cake with a skewer and spoon over a little more sherry or brandy. If not icing straightaway, double-wrap the cake in greaseproof paper followed by tin foil and store for up to three months in a cool place, feeding with sherry or brandy a couple more times.
  7. When ready to start icing, warm the apricot jam in a saucepan over a low heat until loosened. Place the cake on a cake stand or board, upside down. Brush all over the top with the warm jam.
  8. Dust a work surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan to roughly ½cm/1/5 inch thick. Use the rolling pin to carefully drape over the top of the cake. Level and gently smoothe the top of the cake, trimming away the excess marzipan with a small sharp knife.
  9. Dust the work surface again with icing sugar and roll out the fondant icing so that you have a perfect 20cm/8 inch circle (use the base of the cake tin as the template). Lay the icing on top of the marzipan and gently press to smoothe out.
  10. Decorate the cake and tie a ribbon around the base of the cake.
  11. Store in an airtight container in a cool place until needed.

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