Our easy fruit cake recipe is perfect for when you're in a pinch, but still want a homemade Christmas cake. You'll need to do a little prep the night before but then you'll be able to have everything ready to bake and in the oven in just half an hour!
- 400g (14oz) currants
- 175g (6oz) sultanas
- 175g (6oz) raisins
- 75g (3oz) dried apricots, chopped
- 75g (3oz) dried figs, chopped
- 50g (2oz) candied peel
- 5tbsp whisky
- 225g (8oz) plain flour
- pinch salt
- 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
- 1tsp mixed spice
- 1/2tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 225g (8oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 225g (8oz) soft dark brown sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 65g (2 1/2oz) Brazil nuts, toasted and chopped
- 1tbsp black treacle
- grated zest 1 lemon
- grated zest 1 orange
Place 4 to 6 tablespoons apricot jam and 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer for about a minute, remove and strain through a sieve.
To decorate the cake, brush the apricot glaze liberally over the top and sides of the cake. Marzipan and ice the cake around 4 days before Christmas. Roll out the marzipan to fit and cover the sides and top of the cake. It’s best to leave the marzipan to dry out overnight before icing. Roll out the fondant icing to fit and cover sides and top of the cake.
Sift the flour, salt and spices into a bowl and set aside. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixture and beat on high speed until very soft, fluffy and pale in colour. Gradually add the eggs to the mixture, beating well all the time until all the egg is incorporated. Don’t worry if the mixture looks a little curdled at this stage – it will be fine once you add the flour.
Gently fold in the flour and spices, being careful not to knock out too much air. Fold in the whisky-soaked fruits, plus the Brazil nuts, treacle and lemon and orange zest, then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Make a small indentation with the back of a teaspoon in the centre of the cake, so that the centre doesn’t rise. You want a nice even top.
Place a band of brown paper around the outside of the tin and cut another double thickness of bakewell paper to cover the top of the cake so that it doesn’t brown too much. Make a hole in the centre of the bakewell paper the size of a £1 coin.
Place the cake on the lower shelf of the oven, and don’t be tempted to open the door until three-quarters of the way through cooking. To check that the cake is cooked, insert a skewer through the centre, and if there’s no wet mixture clinging to the skewer, then the cake is cooked. If not, return to the oven and test again after 20 minutes or until cooked.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin before wrapping well in double greaseproof paper and storing in an airtight tin. Rich fruitcakes can take up to 4 hours to cool. To “feed” the cake with whisky, make a few holes in the top with a skewer and pour a couple of tea.
Find more Christmas cake recipes