Classic Christmas cake

Get ahead with your festive baking and rustle up our gently spiced fruit cake, covered in smooth layers of marzipan and fondant icing. This classic Christmas cake serves 12.


600g currants, sultanas and raisins
100g glacé cherries
50g mixed peel, chop a couple of whole pieces if you can
50g glacé ginger or crystallised ginger, roughly chopped
100g glacé or diced pineapple, roughly chopped
60ml Cointreau or Grand Marnier
60ml ginger wine
2 tbsp Angostura bitters, the orange version is good
225g light muscovado sugar
250g butter, softened
225g plain flour
1tsp ground ginger
¼ of a whole one nutmeg, grated
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp vanilla extract
100g whole blanched almonds
4 eggs
1 orange, zested

2 tbsp apricot jam, mixed with 1 tbsp water and sieved
500g marzipan
corn flour, for rolling
4 tbsp vodka
500g ready-roll fondant icing


  1. Soak the dried and glacé fruit in the alcohol and Angostura bitters for up to 2 days.
  2. Heat the oven to 140C/fan 120C/gas 1. Line an 18cm square or 20cm round cake tin with 2 layers of baking parchment. Beat the sugar and butter together then sift in the flour and spices and mix briefly. Add the vanilla, almonds, eggs, orange zest and the fruit and alcohol mix and stir together. Spoon into the tin and make a dip in the centre with the back of a spoon so that when the cake rises in the middle you get a at top. Bake for 3-31/2 hours then cool in the tin in the oven.
  3. Peel off the paper and brush off any crumbs, then brush the top with the jam. Roll out the marzipan on a work surface dusted with corn flour until it is big enough to cover the cake. Lift it over the cake using a rolling pin and smooth down all the way around. Trim any excess. Brush with vodka then roll out the icing and cover in the same way. Trim the icing around the edges and neaten. Roll out the icing off-cuts and cut out different sized stars, brush with a little vodka and stick to the cake. Finish with a ribbon.

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