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Aunty Rosaleen's Traditional Irish Christmas Cake. A cake made for generations that just keeps getting better.

Aunty Rosaleen’s Irish Christmas Cake

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Hi Bold Bakers!

One of our Christmas Traditions in Ireland is to eat fruit cake. A big part of that tradition is to make our Christmas Cake  in October, giving your cake enough time to mature its flavor and age. This Christmas Cake is rich and moist, and very delicious. This recipe is from my Aunty Rosaleen who is a fantastic baker. She kindly shared it with me and I’m sharing it with you.

Part of the tradition of making Christmas Cakes is to make a wish when storing the ingredients together. I have very clear memories of mixing the big Mason & Cash bowl in the kitchen with my mum. We would line up to make a wish.

Like I said, these cakes get better with age. Store it in a tin or air tight container for up to 6 months. Don’t worry, the booze will keep it from turning bad and it will actually get better with age.

Traditional Irish Christmas Cake, Traditional Christmas Cake, Irish Christmas Cake, fruit cake recipe, fruit cake, Christmas cake recipe, Traditional Christmas Cake recipe

4.57 from 30 votes
Aunty Rosaleen's Traditional Irish Christmas Cake. A cake made for generations that just keeps getting better.
Aunty Rosaleen's Irish Christmas Cake
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time
3 hrs 10 mins
Course: desserts
Cuisine: Irish
Author: My Aunty Rosaleen
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 3 cups (15oz/426g) sultanas
  • 3 cups (15oz426g) raisins
  • 1 ½ cups (8oz/225g) glace cherries
  • ½ cup (2 ½oz/71g) chopped or sliced almonds
  • cup (2oz/60g) candied peel
  • 1 cup (8floz/225ml) whiskey
  • 1 ⅔ cups (13oz/367g) muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup (10oz/ 300g) butter, room temperature
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups (10oz/282g) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg , ground
  1. The night before, steep the fruit, candied peel, orange zest and lemon zest in whiskey. Allow to sit covered overnight at room temperature. This lets the fruit plump up and all the flavors macerate.

  2.  The next day, pre-heat the oven to 280oF (140oC) then butter and line a 10 1/2 inches wide and 3 inches deep cake tin, set aside. 

  3. Rinse the cherries off then pat with a paper towel to absorb any excess liquid.  Quarter the cherries then lightly toss in flour (this will keep the cherries from sinking to the bottom of the cake while baking). Set aside. 

  4. In a large bowl combine the flour and spices, set aside. 

  5. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

  6. Add in the eggs one at a time then fold in the dry ingredients. 

  7. Lastly, fold in the boozy fruit mix, chopped almonds, candied peel and cherries. At this point traditionally you make a wish while you stir. As kids my Mum always let us do this.

  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 280oF (140oC) for one hour then at 240oF (120oC) for about 2 1/2 hours.

  9. Once baked let it cool down completely on a wire rack. Wrap it up well in baking paper and store in a tin or air tight container for up to 3 months. Don't worry, the booze will keep it from turning bad and it will actually get better with age.



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Write a Comment and Review

  1. Shweta.U on December 29, 2018 at 6:59 am

    Hi Gemma
    What is the best replacement for alcohol in the recipe??? Orange juice or grape juice…?
    💞Happy Holidays & Happy 2019💞

    • Gemma Stafford on December 30, 2018 at 10:54 pm

      Hi there, yes orange or cranberry would be a good substitute.

  2. Gandhimathi on December 24, 2018 at 2:55 am

    Hi Gemma,

    Gandhi from India. Can i replace the eggs in this recipe? If so, with what?

    • Gemma Stafford on December 24, 2018 at 12:54 pm


      Yes with apple sauce or buttermilk for this recipe. I shared my chart with you so definitely refer to that.


  3. Amali on December 22, 2018 at 8:52 am

    This is the best Christmas fruit cake I have ever made. Thank You Gemma.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 22, 2018 at 5:44 pm

      YAY! I think so too, i am delighted to hear that, happy holidays!

  4. Debarati on December 21, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    Hi Genma, I’m a big fan of your recipies. In this recipe can you please explain me what is “mixed spice”. Thank in advance.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 22, 2018 at 5:55 pm

      Hello mixed spice is cinnamon, coriander seed, caraway, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice, and mace. If you dont have all of those combined already you can use the ones you do have as long as they add up to the same measurement. Enjoy and happy holidays!

  5. Kathleen on December 18, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    I used to make my mother’s fruitcake while she was still alive. Recipe calls for more candied peels and cherries with glazed pineapple plus walnuts with almonds. A;so has coconut. The cake is basically all fruit. Used sherry instead of whiskey and started it at Thanksgiving and basted weekly until Christmas. Fond memories of this, helping my mom.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 18, 2018 at 10:51 pm

      Food memories are the best memories, Kathleen.


  6. ShamimaS on December 18, 2018 at 7:26 am

    Hi Gemma!

    I have soaked the dry fruits in orange juice.The taste of the cake is very nice.Thanks for the recipe.I have also posted the photo.


    • Gemma Stafford on December 18, 2018 at 5:26 pm

      Yay, so glad you enjoyed it! Happy Holidays!

      • ShamimaS on December 18, 2018 at 6:18 pm

        Hi Gemma!

        Thank you.Merry Christmas & Happy New Year in advance….


  7. Irina on December 18, 2018 at 5:20 am

    Hello, Gemma 🙂 Do you have any video for this recipe?
    Greetings from Romania

    • Gemma Stafford on December 18, 2018 at 5:18 pm

      Hi there, no for this one no. I hope you give it a try though. Happy Holidays!

  8. Apoorva Joshi on December 17, 2018 at 2:02 am

    Hello I don’t have a 9″ pan, I can do it with a 8 inch pan?

    • Gemma Stafford on December 17, 2018 at 3:40 am

      Hi there,
      If your pan is deep then that may work well for you. This cake does not rise very much. You meed the pan to be 3 inches deep, then fill the batter to 3/4 full, level it out and bake. Do watch the baking time, it may take a little longer, monitor it well.
      Happy Christmas to you and yours,
      Gemma 🙂

  9. Bindu on December 15, 2018 at 2:55 am

    Hi Gemma … I m Bindu from India ..I do keep watching n following your videos thru Facebook .,…..I have soaked my dried fruits in rum for more than a month can we use these soaked fruits for making Christmas cake ?? Should we coat these dried soaked with flour so that they won’t sink at the bottom of the cake ..

    • Gemma Stafford on December 16, 2018 at 5:31 am

      Hi Bindu,
      Yes! these will be amazing in this fruit cake, or in a Christmas pudding too.
      I think you have no need to coat these, they will be plump from soaking, and would not take the flour in the same way.
      I hope this works well for you and that you have a very happy Christmas,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Bindu on December 16, 2018 at 7:05 am

        Thank you Gemma
        Can you please give me your valuable opinion about the ingredients and the proportion what I m going to put for my cake
        All purpose flour 21/2cups
        Sugar white -1 1/2 cups
        Demarara sugar -1/2 cup
        Soaked fruits diced -350 GM’s
        Milk -5tbsp (optional if the consistency of batter is too dense) otherwise 2to3tbsp
        Vanilla essence-1tsp
        Chocolate melted -100gm approx.
        Baking powder -1/2 TSP
        Baking soda-1/2tsp
        This is wanted to make a chocolate dry fruits cake for Christmas.. please give me your opinion if this is correct ratio n ingredients…
        I did try I made as muffin … So the temp is 140degrees centigrade for 40 minutes …
        The first batch of muffins seems to be hard on the outside n moist in the inside n soft
        Please recommend n opinion for my ingredients…thank you

        • Gemma Stafford on December 17, 2018 at 3:09 am

          Hi there,
          You have a big task here for me!
          The recipe here is indicated for a 9 inch pan. I really cannot work this out for you, I would need to make it, and I am sorry, I do not have the time as I am traveling.
          We would not normally add cocoa/chocolate to this type of recipe, it is as rich as it needs to be as it is. You will have to experiment with this recipe if you wish to change it.
          I wish you well with this,
          Gemma 🙂

  10. Sherri Gardner on December 12, 2018 at 7:38 am

    What king of cherries? The draining confused me. We have candied cherries or maraschino cherries. The candied ones have no juice to drain

    • Gemma Stafford on December 12, 2018 at 12:27 pm

      Hi there i use marachino ones and rinse them to remove the liquid they are in them dry them off before adding them to the cake. Enjoy and happy holidays!

  11. Barbara on December 11, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    Hi Gemma, I would love to try this recipe to give to my mom for Christmas. She is of Irish heritage. : ) I was just wondering if sultanas are a type of raisin or are they dried white grapes and Where can you buy them? Thank you and Merry Christmas!!

    • Gemma Stafford on December 12, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      Yes they are golden raisins made from dried green grapes. Enjoy and Happy holidays!

  12. Carol Silberfein on December 11, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Hi Gemma,
    Do I use some of the1.5 cups of flour to mix with the cherries to prevent them from sinking to the bottom or should I take an additional amount of flour to mix the cherries. If I need an additional amount, how much should I use?

    • Gemma Stafford on December 11, 2018 at 10:25 am

      Hi there, you dont really need to do this as there is so much fruit in the cake it really all holds together and does not sink If you do want to do this i would just do a few tablespoons of flour. Enjoy and happy holidays!

  13. Carol Silberfein on December 11, 2018 at 8:34 am

    Hi Gemma,
    I can’t wait to make this delicious fruit cake. I have some questions.
    1. Are sultanas the same as Thompson seedless raisins?
    2. Then, do you have 1 cup of regular raisins & 1 cup of the Thompson seedless raisins?
    3.Are candied cherries the same as glacé cherries?
    4. Should I use lemon or orange candied peel?
    5. Will the recipe turn out ok, if I replace the mixed spice with pumpkin spice?
    6.Can I use two 9 or 10 inch loaf pans?
    7. The recipe says to use a 10.5 x 3 inch pan, but in the comments you said 9 in ch round, please clarify.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 12, 2018 at 7:43 pm

      Hi Carol,

      1, no they are not But you can use them. Trader joes sells them.
      2, Yes
      3, Yes
      4, If you have candied peel then yes but If not I just use zest as I find it hard to buy in the states
      5, yes that is totally fine
      6, you will need 2 tins if you do the
      7, yes can use 10 or 9 inches. Very little difference.

      Hope this helps,

  14. Parameswary on December 11, 2018 at 4:19 am

    Hi Gemma!

    If i already have mix fruits. Hie many gram of it should I use for this recipe. Please advise. Would love to give it a try. Thanks.

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

    • Gemma Stafford on December 11, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      Hi there, you can use the same total amount of mixed fruit as i listed in the recipe, just dont worry about how much of each as ling as the total is the same! Enjoy and have a lovely holiday!

  15. Pallavi on December 5, 2018 at 5:13 am

    Hi, Gemma! Quick question: do I use dried raisins from the packet or should I wash them, dry them then soak them in fear of them being unclean?

    Many thanks!

    • Gemma Stafford on December 6, 2018 at 10:58 am

      Hi there, no need to soak them as they will be soaked and plumped up in the alcohol. Enjoy and happy holidays 😀

  16. Pooja on December 4, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Hi Gemma,
    Thank you so much for this from India
    Pls tell which Eggless option would be better for this recipe and then how long can be stored? Plus what option would be good for making alcohol less version?

  17. Sharon Peek on December 2, 2018 at 10:38 am

    What size pan did you use? Do you line the pan with parchment?
    Do you butter the pan?

    • Gemma Stafford on December 4, 2018 at 10:27 am

      Hi there, i used a 9 inch pan and yes i suggest buttering it and lining it with parchment paper!

  18. Sharon Peek on December 2, 2018 at 10:35 am

    I don’t like candied peel, so I will be substituting chopped dried apricots. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 3, 2018 at 4:47 pm

      I’m delighted to hear you’re giving this a try!

  19. Aidrienne Branagan on December 1, 2018 at 10:21 am

    Hello Gemma, what a wonderful site you have . I just came across one of your Utube videos by chance .Being from Ireland, myself, a lot of your recipes look familiar.This Christmas cake recipe would be very similar to mine, which was passed down to me from my mam. We also had the tradition of making a wish, but we were always told as children , I am in my fifties now,that when the Christmas Cake was baking we were not to be running around or being loud as that the cake would not rise. I was just wondering if you had heard of that one.
    I am looking forward to delving deeper into your site , some of the cakes look lovely. I love American cake recipes , they are as you say ‘bigger and bolder’.
    You are a great advertisement for all that is Irish
    Slan leat.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 2, 2018 at 3:14 am

      Hi Adrienne,
      Good to have you here with us, adding to our community knowledge too.
      Yes! my mum used to tell us that when the cake was baking they were sent for a walk in the country, hail, rain or shine 🙂 There was a really good reason for that at the time. Ovens were not as reliable as they are now, and the slightest variation in temperature could cause the fruit in this heavy cake to fall. Now ovens are controlled by thermostats so it is less of an issue.
      Making the wish was part of out pudding making tradition at home, you stirred the mix three times and wished. you were not allowed to wish for money/riches. Haha, not too sure if the wishes came true, but we are still here, still baking too!
      Thank you for your kind words too, we are everywhere, us Irish!
      Keep us in touch with your baking, we are always delighted to get the Bold Bakers experiences,
      Gemma 🙂

    • Mumtaz on March 14, 2019 at 7:22 am

      Hi this recipe looks lovely, will definitely try. Why is it when I make a fruit cake its dry and not moist.

      Can I bake with a tray of water inside the oven to keep the cake moist?

      • Gemma Stafford on March 15, 2019 at 2:48 am

        Hi there,
        This is a moist fruit cake, actually difficult to get this one to be dry! The ingredients are important, try to stick to a recipe. The oven temperature too is really important, this type of cake is low and slow. A grated apple to the fruit mix is also a great tip, and works really well. I think you do not need the tray of water for this, it will make little difference.
        The alcohol is not essential in this cake, so do not worry about leaving that out. Soak your fruit in orange juice to plump it up before baking, this will also help to keep your fruit cakes moist.
        I hope this is of help,
        Gemma 🙂

  20. ShamimaS on November 24, 2018 at 6:57 am

    Hi Gemma!

    It would be really very helpful if you could share the video.


    • Gemma Stafford on November 24, 2018 at 6:16 pm

      Hi Shamima,

      I’ll definitely do a video of this in the future. Thanks for the suggestion.


  21. Erika Cronje on November 22, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    I will definitely try this recipe as it sounds delicious. I do not like the fruitcake mix (the orange peel creeps me out lol) so I always use only glazed fruit and sultanas. I have a recipe I got many years ago from the kitchen of the Queen of England, her cooks recipe and it is awesome, a light coloured cake with a dozen eggs in, soft and moist and rich and they add rum to it!! I actually make my fruitcake in a huge loaf tin ans I find it easier to store and cut

    • Gemma Stafford on November 23, 2018 at 4:22 am

      Hi Erika,
      Wow! how lovely. Goes to show that all of these things were possible in old fashioned cookers, with no kitchen appliances, just the elbow grease of the good cook, who was usually a woman too! such a lovely thing for you to have. Treasure it.
      The loaf shape has been popular in my home too in recent times, so few people to eat the cake now, so it is easily stored.It keeps for months too, getting better all the time, when properly stored. Feeding it meant periodically opening it and pouring Irish Whiskey over it. Aunty Rosaleen uses a dark rum, but feeds it just once as it matures.
      Thank you for this lovely contribution to our community,
      Gemma 🙂

  22. Mary Green on November 22, 2018 at 10:45 am

    This reminds me of Gram’s fruitcake. The batter just holds all that wonderful fruit together. Hers were baked in a water bath. She wrapped it in cheesecloth and foil, stored it in the drawer at the bottom of the fridge and poured brandy on it every week. When it was time, she would frost with a browned sugar frosting. Oh, my, such a wonderful memory. It’s only the two of us and too much work but also too much to eat since fruitcake is not hubby’s “thing.” Thank you for this trip down Memory Lane.

    • Gemma Stafford on November 23, 2018 at 3:43 am

      Hi Mary,
      Ah! that is such a lovely memory. My mum still talks about the making of the Christmas cakes and puddings at home with her mum, and I remember this ritual too at home with mine. Yes, the cakes were ‘fed’ with Irish whiskey for the cakes, with dark rum or brandy for the puddings, and boy are they delicious! Aunty Rosaleen does the cakes now, and mum does the puddings, looking forward to them this year!
      Happy Christmas now that Thanksgiving is over, something else to look forward to,
      Gemma 🙂

  23. Angie on November 15, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Hi Gemma,

    Can you give me the equivalent oven temperatures for a gas oven as I’m struggling to convert. Also could you let me have your recipe for Porters cake.

    Love your ideas and the straightforward ways you present.

    Angie. (Uk resident)

    • Gemma Stafford on November 16, 2018 at 7:47 pm

      Hi Angie,

      Glad you like my recipes. Thanks so much. I’ll have to look for my porter cake recipe. I do have one though.

      I think for gas the conversion is the same? Just bake it on the top rack because it needs a long time.


  24. Jo on November 12, 2018 at 5:08 am

    Hi Gemma,

    can this be made as a stand alone fruit cake and can it be made now to be eaten in a few weeks or does it need longer to rest? Thanks

    • Gemma Stafford on November 12, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Hi, you can make it and eat it fresh but it does get better with time! Great question 🙂

      • Mair C on December 10, 2018 at 8:19 am

        what would be the best way to store this until Christmas? thanks

        • Gemma Stafford on December 11, 2018 at 5:15 pm

          Hi there, because this has so much preserved fruit and alcohol in it, it will keep just fine covered and stored in an airtight container or in plastic wrap at room temperature until Xmas. Enjoy and have a lovely holiday!

  25. Lynnda L. McCaw on November 12, 2018 at 2:49 am

    Hi from Canada, Gemma,
    I love your recipes, especially the mug recipes. As a 71 year old widow with M.S. they are perfect for me and so so good. My question is about the 5 eggs in the Irish Christmas cake. My daughter has an egg allergy and I would dearly love to make this for her family. She can sometimes get away with an egg in a large batch recipe. Do you have any suggestions for maybe using only one or two eggs and adjusting this recipe to accommodate this. Many thanks for any suggestions and I will continue follow, make and enjoy your delicious recipes.

    • Gemma Stafford on November 12, 2018 at 8:02 pm

      Hi Lynnda,

      Thank you for your message. I’m really glad you like my recipes. Regarding the eggs you can use less and then replace maybe 3 with one of my egg substitutes for cake like apple sauce or buttermilk might be best. Check out my chart :

      Gemma :).

  26. Connie Delaney on November 5, 2018 at 4:19 am

    Hi Gemma,
    looking for a very dark, mostly fruit than cake, should I or could I add dark molasses and is this fruit cake mostly fruit than the cake?
    Also I remember my uncle making fruit cake months before Christmas and I guess what I was reading in the comments was “feeding” it every so often. This was the kind of recipe I have been searching for but unable to find. could you explain the process so that I can do this with your recipe, because I find yours is the closest recipe to what I want to do than others I have researched .


    • Gemma Stafford on November 6, 2018 at 7:31 am

      Hi Connie,
      This is exactly that type of recipe. Aunty Rosaleen feeds the cake once as it is just cold and freshly baked. The second time about a week before Christmas, and frosting. You use a skewer to pierce the cake, right through to the bottom. Then you gently pour over a glass of whiskey, brandy or in this case a dark rum. You unwrap this cake from its baking papers, the re-wrap in fresh grease proof paper/baking paper, not silicon, then in foil and store for a couple of months in a cool place. Generally this would be unwrapped a few days before Christmas, then a layer of marzipan is applied, using sieved apricot jam as a glue! This is allowed to dry off in the air overnight, then the final frosting, royal icing traditionally, now more often fondant.
      This is the cake you are looking for. We would use a dark brown sugar, laden with molasses in this cake, no extra molasses required.
      I hope this is of help to you,
      Gemma 🙂

  27. Maria on October 7, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    Hi what size tin to use as it does not say thanks for the ingredients

    • Gemma Stafford on October 8, 2018 at 2:14 am

      Hi Maria,
      Apologies, I meant to add that to the recipe, I checked with Aunty Rosaleen, it is a 9 inch pan.
      You can make this in two loaf pans too, and she sometimes does this too.
      Thank you for being in touch, I hope you like this recipe. It can be made quite soon for Christmas!
      Gemma 🙂

  28. Denise Barber on July 17, 2018 at 6:16 am

    Hi Gemma,
    I used this recipe for my first ever attempt at a fruit cake. Wow. Delicious! I’d like to make it again in varying sizes, including some individual cakes for inclusion in xmas hampers. Can you give me some advise on how to amend cooking times/temperatures for different cake sizes?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 17, 2018 at 9:15 pm

      Hi Denise,

      I’m delighted you like this recipe. I’m not sure what your tin size so it’s hard for me to judge however just note, regardless the size they will still need a decent time to bake.


  29. Malin on July 9, 2018 at 6:54 am

    Hi Gemma,
    I will be making this out of 1 egg just to check the taste ect; for a wedding cake that I have to make very soon. I tried a few other recipes including Mary Berrys’ and her one is similar in quantities to your one. Mary’s one I found the mixture was very dry when the flour was added . How does your recipe looks when everything is combined as in the texture of the batter if it’s expected to be dense? I want to try your one as I found your Carrot cake recipe a Winner & I rated 5*
    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    • Gemma Stafford on July 10, 2018 at 12:54 am

      Hi Malin,
      This is a very moist fruit cake, and dense, as this type of cake usually is.
      I can see where you are going with your experiment, dividing every ingredient by 5, to make a sample.
      Do write the recipe out, or print it, and divide every ingredient before you start. This is where most people make a mistake, they forget to divide one or omre of the ingredients.
      The size of the pan you use to bake this really matters for this recipe. When it is finished this cake is usually 3 – 4 inches high. It does not rise much in baking either. Line the pan you are using really well, I would at least double the lining paper, butter it to get it to stick together and to the pan, and even wrap the pan in a layer of brown paper to protect the sides and prevent fruit burning in this small cake.
      Then the baking time will change too, and I cannot be sure what it will be, you will need to monitor this carefully. I think the temperature should remain the same but the hotter baking time perhaps for a shorter period, perhaps 20 minutes, it is difficult to know. Really once the cake is set up then the temperature should be turned down. Do not open the oven door too often as it can cause the cake to fall.
      This cake keeps really well when well wrapped and stored in a cool place. I wrap this in two layers of grease proof paper, then foil, and a plastic bag. Do not wrap until it is completely cold.
      About the pan: you will need to get an idea of the capacity of the pan. Rosaleen’s pan would be a round pan, 9 x 4 inches, but not filled to the top, usually to about 3 inches high. The capacity of this pan is a little over 1,00 sq inches, your pan will need to be about 4 inches in diameter by 4 inches deep, to give a volume of about 200. This is not a common pan size.
      I hope this all works out well for you.
      Gemma 🙂

  30. Ann on July 5, 2018 at 8:33 am

    Hi Gemma! I’ve just tried to follow this recipe, but it’s not complete and the baking times are odd. Can please take a look and review please.

    Many thanks ahead of time.

    • Gemma Stafford on July 5, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      Hi Ann,
      I am wondering what you feel is confusing.
      The baking times are as follows:
      Bake in a preheated oven at 280oF (140oC) for one hour then at 240oF (120oC) for about 2 1/2 hours.
      Once baked let it cool down completely on a wire rack. Wrap it up well in baking paper and store in a tin or air tight.
      This may seem odd, but this is a very heavy cake, more like a pudding really. It does not really rise per se, just firms up in the baking. This would not bake well at higher temperatures, the fruit would burn.
      Mixed spice is sold as such in the UK and Ireland. It is a mix of cinnamon/ginger/allspice/nutmeg and a touch of clove, or similar warming spices. In the absence of mixed spice use cinnamon, and nutmeg with a touch of ginger.
      If there is something else I am missing it, let me know,
      Gemma 🙂

  31. Sam on January 16, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Is there any way I could make a Christmas cake now, in January and keep feeding if till Christmas without it going off? Would it go off?

    • Gemma Stafford on January 17, 2018 at 3:19 am

      I will have to ask Rosaleen!
      I think this will be too long to keep it, usually these would have been made in October for Christmas, and that is probably just right.
      However, we often would keep a quarter of this cake until March, well wrapped in a cool place, and it is delightful at this time of year as a treat.
      We would not continue to ‘feed’ it after Christmas, and it would still be good!
      I think we had a cake in Ireland long ago called a ‘drunken’ cake, which was a boozy fruit cake, but it seems to have vanished!
      I will email you a copy of my mum’s friend’s ‘Porter’ cake, made with Guinness.
      Thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Sam on January 17, 2018 at 11:51 am

        Thank you for all your help 😁

  32. Gemma Stafford on December 23, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Mary Francis, the marzipan will be wonderful!
    This year Aunty Rosaleen made a lot of cakes for a Christmas fair, using Marzipan, which she scorched with a blow torch. They looked amazing, and tasted even better. Do not use a buttercream on this cake, it will not be good. A fondant would be great, but the cake can stand up on its’ own, so do not worry.
    I will tell Rosaleen that you made her cake, she will be delighted 🙂

  33. Qristy Ang on December 23, 2017 at 7:27 am

    Hi Gemma, can i use mixed fruits for all your fruit cake recipes & change castor sugar to brown sugar? Thanks!

    • Gemma Stafford on December 23, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Hi there,
      Yes, you certainly can do this, it is not a problem,
      Gemma :_

  34. Lyn on December 18, 2017 at 12:02 am

    Hi Gemma would be grateful if you could share a Marzipan and royal icing recipe to cover my cake please happy Christmas xx

    • Gemma Stafford on December 18, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      Hi Lyn,

      Sorry I haven’t published a marzipan recipe but I do have a royal icing recipe. Here you go

  35. Margaret on December 9, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Hi Gemma, I love your recipe..definitely going to try it…But do we need to add baking soda to the batter?, also the eggs need to go in soon after creaming the butter and sugar..right? Thanks

    • Gemma Stafford on December 9, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      Hi Margaret,

      Yes you do need the baking soda. if you don’t have any here is a solution

      Also yes eggs go in after butter being creamed 🙂

      Happy Baking!

      • Maggie on December 10, 2017 at 6:54 am

        How much baking soda ? Maybe I’m just missing it in the recipe?

        • Gemma Stafford on December 11, 2017 at 3:51 am

          Hi Maggie,
          No baking soda in this recipe, this is a dense cake, it does not require a raising agent, it would not really do anything in the recipe,
          Gemma 🙂

  36. Claudette on December 1, 2017 at 6:46 am

    Hi Gemma,
    I want to do a brandy mix but to soak the fruit I don’t have the brand yet will ginger liqueur go well?

    Thanks so much

    • Gemma Stafford on December 2, 2017 at 3:16 am

      Hi Claudette,
      Yes! really you can soak the fruit in anything you have. Orange juice, applejuice, a liqueur, whiskey, anything really. I hope you like this cake, we do in our house!
      Gemma 🙂

  37. Eoghan Mag on November 19, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Gemma, nice recipe. Can a tablespoon of fresh lemon and a tablespoon of milk be added to this mix? Also when smoothing the mix in the tin should you create a slight hollow in the middle? If your cake cracks on baking is this to do with oven temperature variation or how well it was smoothed?

    • Gemma Stafford on November 20, 2017 at 1:59 am

      Hi Eoghan,
      Some people would say that the crack in the cake is a sign of a good bake!
      What I do not like to see are very dark/burnt edges. The careful lining of the pan, even wrapping it in brown paper and securing it with string, help to keep the pan cool, allowing an even bake. This was always done in my house!
      Yes, not so much a hollow, but flat as possible. The rise is slight enough. I never saw milk added to this type of cake, whiskey, apple juice, brandy, rum yes, but not milk. However I cannot see a compelling reason not to add it.
      Temperature is really important to this type of cake, it is vital really. It takes time to bake this!
      Good luck with your bake, I hope you enjoy this one,
      Gemma 🙂

  38. Renee on November 4, 2017 at 4:28 am

    Hi Gemma! Thanks for this recipe again. Quick questions – do I need to add salt in this recipe? If yes, how much? Also, I’m planning to feed the cake with triple sec. Is this a good or bad idea? I want the orangey flavour it will leave behind, but I’m not excited about the extra sugar.

    • Gemma Stafford on November 5, 2017 at 3:32 am

      Hi Renee,
      No, you do not need salt for this cake.
      Triple sec is a lovely thing, but as you say it is very sweet.
      What I would prefer to do is add extra orange zest to the batter, and then the traditional feeding will be with whiskey, which will give the flavor, without additional sugars. It will also help to preserve the cake. This cake, when well wrapped, in a cool place, will hold for months! A great one for a wedding cake too.
      I do hope you like this recipe, we always love this in our house. Watch your oven temperature and timing.
      Gemma 🙂

  39. Binu on November 2, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Hey, can I add red wine instead of whiskey? Haven’t got whiskey. Planning to make one during Xmas season.
    Got a query, What’s the difference between your recipe n fruit cake recipe you shared above,the spice mix? Tia

    • Gemma Stafford on November 3, 2017 at 2:15 am

      Hi Binu,
      This cake is a traditional Christmas cake mix. It is full of sugars, and the whiskey, or brandy helps to preserve it. It is often made at least a month before Christmas, well wrapped, and in a cool place it will keep for months. Red wine will NOT do this, do not add it. You would be better to make it nearer to the date, a few weeks, wrap it well and it will be good. Use apple juice, or orange juice to soak the fruit. Read through the recipes to decide which is best for your need. The richer the cake the longer it will store,
      Gemma 🙂

  40. Candace on September 17, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    These recipes sound delicious! I grew up with my mom making her own fruit cakes, adding brandy. After they were baked and cooled, she covered them with brandy dipped cheesecloth in pretty tins and stored them in a cool closet to give as Christmas gifts. The cakes were moist and everyone loved them. As a result, I couldn’t understand why many people didn’t like fruit cake until I tasted store bought kinds.

    Apart from the nostalgia–can these cakes be successfully made using a gluten free flour blend?

    Thank you,
    Candace in the USA

    • Gemma Stafford on September 18, 2017 at 2:05 am

      Hi Candace,
      I consulted Aunty Rosaleen!! As it happens she has a daughter in law who is celiac. She said that you would need to use zanthum gum with the AP gluten free flour, or a strong GF flour, formulated for yeast baking.
      I do hope this is of help. Yes, I remember that too, the baptizing of the cake with brandy, or whiskey. This was done a few times in the month or so after baking, it is said to preserve the cake, and add flavor. I don’t know, but it certainly worked. A delicious thing in small portions!
      Gemma 🙂

  41. SusanMargaret on December 19, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Hi Gemma: There are a couple of things omitted in this recipe: In the “method” for baking this cake, there is no mention of when the 5 eggs or almonds should be incorporated into the batter. Also, I think it would be most helpful to give the appropriate pan size for the recipe. Luckily, I have enough experience with cakes to know these things (and can approximate the pan size which ended up being a 10″ round pan) but others may find the instructions confusing. I made my own mixed spice combination because I was unfamiliar with a packaged spice mix but I wish I had read your suggestion about leaving out the cloves altogether. Too late now – the cake is in the oven. Fingers crossed the cloves don’t overpower this cake.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 20, 2016 at 2:20 am

      Hi Susan,
      I am so sorry to confuse, I took it as I got it, and because I am so familiar with the process did not double check all of the anomolies.
      I have re-visited the recipe now and adjusted it.
      The amount of clove will be small enoug in any case, so it will be good for you.
      Thank you for bringing this to my attention.
      Happy Christmas to you and yours,
      Gemma 🙂

  42. Abhi on December 16, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    Can we replace the alcohol in the dish, because I am going to have some kids over.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 17, 2016 at 2:58 am

      Yes, you can add more fresh orange juice if you wish. Remember that the alcohol burns off in the baking, leaving just the flavor. In Ireland we do pour whiskey, or brandy over the cake at the end of the baking, when the cake is still warm, but the alcohol still evaporates, it is the angels share!!
      Gemma 🙂

  43. Arpita Mukhuty on December 16, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    Can it be made in microwave oven

    • Gemma Stafford on December 17, 2016 at 2:59 am

      Absoloutely NO!!!
      Gemma 🙂

  44. Judy on December 16, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    This sounds wonderful, I’m going to give it a try. I love fruitcake! What is “mixed spice”? Is it a specific mixture? Can I improvise at home making my own mixture?

    • Gemma Stafford on December 17, 2016 at 3:04 am

      Hi Judy,
      good question. We buy it mixed but it is a combination of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Mace, Cloves and Ginger. This is a good basic idea, you can adjust to your taste.
      Warning: Take it really easy with the cloves, they can dominate, so leave them out if you wish.
      Mace is the husk of a nutmeg, and has a slightly warmer flavor.
      hope this igives you the idea. Auntie rosaleen is delighted that her recipe is finding its’ way around the world.
      Gemma 🙂

  45. TannersMom on December 16, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Hi Gemma! I hope you’re going to tell us what some of these ingredients are because I’ve never heard of some of them. I want to make this but I don’t know what to shop for. Thanks, as always for your help. Love cheryl and Tanner

    • Gemma Stafford on December 17, 2016 at 3:14 am

      Ah! Really? Which ingredients are a mystery?
      Glace cherries are preserved cherries, but in a sugar syrup, can be left out, they do give a lovely color to the cake.
      Candied peel is citrus peel which has been preserved in sugar syrup too.
      Mixed spice is a mix of cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, clove, ginger – to taste, careful with the clove!
      At one time in Ireland, not that long ago, all produce was home grown and seasonal. Fruits were preserved to be used in baking in the Winter months when imported fruits were expensive, or in short supply. the same thing applied to eggs, which were seasonal in the natural world, and were preserves too for Christmas baking in a substance called waterglass. So, that is what I think may be a mystery!
      Gemma 🙂

      • TannersMom on December 17, 2016 at 8:14 am

        Hi Gemma, one thing I’ve never heard of is sultanas and the other is caster sugar. I was reading about some of the ingredients online from someone from the UK and they said most people in the States have never heard of some ingredients that are usually just used in the UK and in Europe. So now I don’t feel so bad that I didn’t know what these two things were. Thank you for your help and the light fruit cake receipe. You mentioned icing the cake after it has cooled, what kind of icing do you use?

        • Gemma Stafford on December 18, 2016 at 2:43 am

          Hi there,
          For this light cake you will use a fondant icing, though a royal icing would work well too, with a light layer of marzipan under the frosting. Marzipan is use at Eastertime for this cake, which is called a Simmnel cake, the marzipan is scorched and it looks really lovely. Simmnel cake also has a layer of marzipan baked in the cake!
          Gemma 🙂

      • Ceara Sullivan on December 31, 2017 at 1:44 pm

        This is the recipe I’ve been looking for!

        Thank you so much for providing it here. To heck with Christmas – winter has come to stay here and I plan to make it anyway. I tried ordering one on two different occasions in December and *both* orders were lost in the mail. Taken by grinches or leprechauns no doubt.

        Do you have a family recipe for trifle? It’s such an elegant dessert. I’ve saved my mother’s trifle bowl but haven’t gotten around to making one since she died (old and full of years…) and now I’ve forgotten the order in which they go into the bowl.

        How about boiled Christmas pudding? Its ingredients are so similar to your cake but as I remember, the texture is very different.

        • Gemma Stafford on January 2, 2018 at 6:00 am

          Hi Ceara,
          Yes, it is for any time really. I will email you a ‘porter cake’ recipe, which is from my Mum’s friend, and is amazing!
          I will also add the Christmas pudding recipe, which is the best ever! My Mum has made this every year for about 40 years.
          I will also send you a link to the trifle recipe we used at home, it is a bit fiddley, but good.
          Gemma 🙂

          • Ceara Sullivan on January 3, 2018 at 9:06 am

            would love to have the recipes, especially the porter cake.

            My grandfather was a manager at Guinness, back in the day. They lived in Dalkey… and all their Christmas cakes came from the bakery at Christmas. They were customer gifts since my grandmother ordered nearly all her breads from them during the year. Bread for 10 children was indeed a customer to be cherished.

            • Gemma Stafford on January 4, 2018 at 6:28 am

              Hi Ceara,
              That is so interesting, I emailed this recipe to you.
              Interesting too how so many families were connected by Guinness, a great employer to this day.
              My family were in the business of wholesaling and bottling, bonded stores etc. Guinness was bottled at our premises, and distributed, before automation took over. The good old days!
              Dalkey, lovely place to live, and I bet they were popular with the local shopkeepers!
              Gemma 🙂

  46. Cindy on December 16, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    1 teaspoon mixed spice….what spices?

    • Gemma Stafford on December 16, 2016 at 8:33 pm

      Mix spice is itself an actually mix of spices. It can be bought in the supermarket. It’s a mix of nutme, cinnamon etc. If you can’t buy it in a store you can find a recipe for it on line. 🙂

      • Essexgirl on October 28, 2018 at 6:53 am

        I have used recipe online for mixed spice for

        • Gemma Stafford on October 29, 2018 at 2:58 am

          That is great!
          Really this is a bit like pumpkin spice ( You can weight this towards the spice you prefer too, but be cautious with cloves, they tend to overwhelm!
          Thank you for being in touch,
          Gemma 🙂

  47. TannersMom on December 16, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Hi Gemma! I’m so anxious to try your fruit cake. Most people cringe if they get one at Christmas because they usually are stale. I was wondering if you have a receipe for a light fruit cake. It was so good and everyone was happy to receive one, but I lost my receipe. I thought you could help me out. Thanks and Merry Christmas!

    • Gemma Stafford on December 17, 2016 at 3:31 am

      When i finished my chef training my parents sent me to a special cookery school in Ireland called Ballymaloe, for a ‘polish’ my Mum said lol.
      my teacher there was the great Darina allen, and this is her Mum’s light fruit cake recipe:

      – 50g (2oz) whole almonds 200g (7oz) sultanas 200g (7oz) raisins
      – 100g (31/2oz) chopped candied peel
      – 50g (2oz) currants 50g (2oz) real glacé cherries, cut in quarters
      – 50g (2oz) ground almonds 225g (8oz) butter, softened 225g (8oz) caster sugar
      – 4 large or 5 small eggs, preferably free-range and organic
      – grated rind of 1 orange
      – 275g (10oz) plain flour pinch of salt
      – 1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
      – 1 teaspoon milk
      Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2. Line a 20.5cm x 30.5cm (8in x 12in) cake tin that is 5cm (2in) deep with parchment paper. Mum cooked this cake in an oval enamel tin with a lid.
      2. Blanch the whole almonds in boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes, rub off the skins and chop. Mix together all the fruit, candied peel and the ground and chopped almonds.
      3. Cream the butter until it’s really soft, then add in the caster sugar and beat until light and creamy. Whisk the eggs and add them in bit by bit, beating well between each addition. Add the grated orange rind.
      4. Sieve the flour and salt together, then stir in the flour and all of the fruit.
      5. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the milk and stir it thoroughly through the mixture.
      6. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 50–60 minutes. Allow to get cold, then turn out of the tin and wrap in greaseproof paper until you are ready to ice it.
      This is not converted to cups, but you can do this!
      Gemma 🙂

      • Ceara Sullivan on December 31, 2017 at 2:25 pm

        In the New England states, beginning in the 1700s, there was a wonderful recipe for “Election Cake” – it took one cup of whiskey in the batter and more to be used as it aged.

        As the recipe (and the custom) spread to the South (mainly Virginia), the liquor became rum, it lost the yeast (but added four eggs), and the fruit was replaced by golden raisins and dried, shredded pineapple. The latter fruit was the symbol of hospitality). This recipe reflected what the English ships delivered to the Virginia colonies, versus the Old World English traditions further north.

        [America ultimately owed its independence to the Scotch-Irish, who settled along the southern coast in droves and then moved inland to the wilds, but not before populating Geo Washington’s rag-tag army. They were/are a fierce people, still the backbone of America’s military. President Andrew Jackson was the first one to rise to the top and the Old Guard hated him – he was a “ruffian”. ]

        • Gemma Stafford on January 2, 2018 at 5:46 am

          Hi Ceara,
          Yes, and there ere a lot of ruffians! Born in hard places at hard times, but bringing grit and determination wherever they went. We truly have a great heritage.
          Thank you for this, very interesting. The yeast version must have been like a ‘baba’ really soaked in whiskey, and Rum Baba is still a lovely thing.
          Gemma 🙂

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