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.







This is my chocolatey alternative to a Simnel cake – I’ve substituted the traditional fruit cake for a moist chocolate cake and the balls of marzipan traditionally used to decorate a Simnel cake have been replaced by homemade chocolate truffles. This is super rich – so it’s a treat and a half for the chocoholics out there.

For the cake:

175g self-raising flour

4 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

150g caster sugar

2 tbsp golden syrup

2 eggs, lightly beaten

150ml milk

150ml corn or vegetable oil

For decorating the cake:

300ml double cream

300g good quality dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids)

30g butter

small pinch of salt

4 tbsp Raspberry or apricot jam

White chocolate to grate/peel over the top

Pre-heat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas mark 3.

For the cake you will need to grease two 20cm sandwich cake tins, and dust them with flour.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining cake ingredients and beat well, either with an electric hand whisk or with a wooden spoon, to give a smooth thick batter consistency.

Divide the mixture between the cake tins and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until just firm to touch. Leave to cool in the tins for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

To make the truffle mixture, pour the cream in a saucepan and place over a medium heat. Once the cream is hot, but not quite boiling (small bubbles will appear on the surface) stir in the butter until melted.

While the cream is heating, break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium mixing bowl with the pinch of salt. Pour over the hot cream and butter, and stir well until the chocolate melts into the cream. Keep to one side.

Once the cake is cool, sandwich the two sponges together with the jam in the middle. Spread with the chocolate truffle mixture, leaving plenty in the bowl to make the 11 truffles. Place the remaining truffle mixture in the fridge for about 30 minutes until it is firm enough to shape into balls.

Roll into 11 truffles and place around the outside of the cake. Finish by grating or peeling (using a vegetable peeler) white chocolate over the top.

Mum’s Treat


Treat your Mum, or in fact just treat yourself to this delicious teatime delight on Mothering Sunday. It is easy enough for the kids to get involved in making which is a real bonus. With that in mind, I think I’ll subtly leave the recipe out for my husband to make with my kids for me to eat on Sunday!

350g caster sugar

350g butter, softened

Grated zest and juice of 4 large limes

1tsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs

350g self-raising flour

3 ripe passion fruit

6tbsp granulated sugar


Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Grease and line a rectangular cake tray measuring about 30cm x 20cm x 4cm with baking paper.

Place the caster sugar, butter, lime zest and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat together until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, with a tablespoon of flour to prevent the mixture from curdling.

Mix in the remaining flour and the passion fruit pulp. Spoon into the prepared tin and level off the surface.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the sponge is a golden colour and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre.

While the cake is cooking, place the lime juice in a bowl and stir in the granulated sugar, so it just starts to dissolve.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, prick several times with a skewer or fork, and then slowly spoon the lime sugar all over the top, letting it soak into the cake. leave to cool completely in the tin before turning out and cutting into pieces to serve.


For a tangy lemon traybake, replace the limes with 2 lemons, omit the passion fruit and add a drop or two of milk to the sponge mixture

photograph: garethmorgans.com

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