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.





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