Christmas Cake

Photo by Chris Court, Benjamin Dearnley, William Meppem, Con Poulos, Anson Smart

While brandy is the traditional partner for fruit cake, you could also try using a dessert sherry such as Pedro Ximénez. It’s an intensely sweet, dark sherry made from the Spanish grape variety of the same name. Perfect in festive cakes, puddings and custards, you can find it in liquor stores.

16–24 servings


    • 3 cups (450g) raisins
    • 1 1⁄2 cups (240g) golden raisins
    • 1 cup (160g) dried currants
    • 8 soft fresh dates (160g), pitted and chopped
    • 1 cup (140g) slivered almonds
    • 3/4 cup (180ml) brandy
    • 250g unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 1/4 cups (220g) light brown sugar
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 1/4 cups (335g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
    • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 2–3 tablespoons brandy, extra


    1. Place both raisins, currants, dates and almonds in a large bowl. Add the brandy, mix to combine and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to soak in a cool dark place overnight, mixing occasionally.
    2. Preheat oven to 140°C (275°F). Line a 20cm (8-inch) square cake tin with 2 layers of non-stick baking paper. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed for 8 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the eggs,1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Set aside.
    3. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and allspice to the soaked fruit and mix well, ensuring the fruit is evenly coated with flour. Add the butter mixture and stir until well combined. Spoon into the tin and smooth the top. Bake for 2 hours or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
    4. Spoon over the extra brandy while the cake is still warm. Allow to cool completely in the tin, before turning out ontoa cake stand or plate to serve.
    5. Keep this cake in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 2 months.

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