Packed full of festive spices, stem ginger and ginger wine this rich and fruity Christmas cake is a real treat.

This recipe was originally featured in a feature I did for Waitrose Food magazine November 2015. img_8737

Makes 1 X 25cm round cake


700g mixed currants, raisins and sultanas

200g soft dried apricots, quartered

200g soft dried prunes, quartered

150g dried cherries (not glace cherries)

125g stem ginger, finely chopped

150ml ginger wine

finely grated rind and juice of 1 orange

350g plain flour

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cloves

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ of a whole nutmeg, grated

275g unsalted butter, at room temperature

275g soft dark brown sugar

1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

5 medium eggs

75g ground almonds

200g pistachios, roughly chopped

extra ginger wine for maturing

25cm round tin, lightly greased with butter


Place all of the dried fruits and ginger in a large bowl and stir in the 150ml of ginger wine, orange juice and zest. Cover and leave in a cool place overnight for the fruits to plump up.


Line the base and sides of the cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment so it comes about 5cm above the tin. Put a double layer around the outside of the tin, and rather than struggling with a piece of string, hold in place with a couple of staples or paper clips. Doing this prevents the cake from overcooking around the outside during the long cooking time.


The next day, pre-heat the oven to 150C, gas mark 2. Sift together the flour, allspice, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large bowl or electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla bean paste until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding about 1 tbsp of the spiced flour with each egg. Mix in the remaining flour and then stir through the ground almonds, pistachios and soaked fruits until thoroughly combined.


Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin, making sure there are no air pockets and spread evenly across the top, using a wet palate knife. Place the tin in the oven, sitting on a few pieces of baking parchment or newspaper. Again this will prevent the outside of the cake from overcooking. After 2 ½ hours, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean without any raw cake mix attached, the cake is cooked, if not, carry on cooking, testing every 10 minutes. During the cooking time, if the top seems to becoming too dark, loosely cover with a piece of baking parchment or foil.


When cooked, leave the cake in the tin to cool for about 1 hour and then turn out onto a wire rack. When the cake is completely cold, make several deep holes with a skewer and pour over a couple of tablespoons of ginger wine – which will be absorbed giving a richer moister finish as the cake matures.


Wrap in a double layer of greaseproof paper or foil and store in a tin. Repeat moistening with ginger wine a couple more times before you ice the cake ready for Christmas.






BAKED AMERICAN CHEESECAKE – as requested by @lisabowhorse on Twitter, from Glamour Magazine 2007.

After one slice of this you’ll both be back for more! The crunchy biscuit base below the creamy vanilla topping is made even more scrumptious when served with a juicy berry sauce.

For the base:

350g digestive biscuits

75g butter, melted

For the filling:

225g caster sugar

3 tablespoons cornflour

675g cream cheese (such as Philadelphia)

2 large eggs, beaten

1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract

300ml whipping cream

To serve:

350g frozen mixed berries

4 tbsp caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas 4.

Grease a round 22 to 24cm springform or loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.

To make the base, finely crush the biscuits until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. This is best done in a food processor, but can be done by putting them in a sealed freezer bag and bashing with a rolling pin (a great way to relieve any stress!) Mix in the melted butter and press well into the base of the cake tin.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and cornflour (ideally in a food processor or using an electric hand whisk). Add in the eggs and cream, and beat until you have a smooth, creamy consistency.

Pour on top of the biscuit base and sit in a roasting tray filled with 1 to 2cm of hot water. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes until the top is lightly golden and the filling is just set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before taking out of the tin.

To prepare the berries, place in a saucepan with the sugar. Heat for a few minutes until they are just holding their shape within a sweet fruity sauce. Leave to cool.

Serve wedges of the cheesecake with a spoonful of berries and enjoy!

Childrens’ Christmas Baking

With school Christmas holidays upon us, plan some creative fun by making these tasty biscuits. They are a fabulous thoughtful gift to give to friends or family. They’re also perfect to hang on your Christmas tree as pretty edible decorations.


Makes 26 x 8 cm biscuits (or more or less, depending on the size of your pastry cutter).

375g plain flour, plus extra for rolling

2 tbsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp cocoa powder

125g butter, softened

125g light muscovado sugar

1 tbsp black treacle

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 large egg, lightly beaten

glitter writing icing tubes, to decorate

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan ovens/gas 4

Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder and cocoa powder.

In a separate bowl beat together the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk until it is slightly creamy. Add the treacle, golden syrup and egg. Beat until smooth.

Using a wooden spoon, gradually add the flour mixture, a little at a time so the flour doesn’t go everywhere, and then finish off with your hands, to form a smooth dough, kneading lightly on the worktop.

Roll the gingerbread dough out on a lightly floured surface to around the thickness of a £1 coin.  Using a pastry cutter, cut out as many small or large biscuit shapes as you can, and place on greased baking sheets. There is no need to space them well apart as the dough won’t spread while cooking.

Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes until they are starting to firm up. If you want to hang them on your Christmas tree, make a hole with a skewer, near the edge while they are still hot.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Once cold the gingerbread biscuits can be decorated like snowflakes (or of course whatever pattern you like).


Once made these will keep, un-decorated, for 3 weeks in an airtight container and decorate when required. If they are decorated too soon, they will become soft.

Photography: Gareth Morgans

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