Need a smaller Christmas cake this Christmas? Or want to make Christmas cakes as gifts? Or do you just want a Christmas cake that is easy to make and easy to slice? Either way, this Easy Christmas Loaf Cake recipe is your answer… ready in 1 hour 30 minutes, it requires just a handful of simple ingredients, and can be decorated and served on the same day you make it!
A loaf shaped Christmas cake!
This year I have been working on a loaf shaped version of Christmas cake. It uses a very similar recipe to my popular Last Minute Emergency Christmas Cake – but I’ve adapted the recipe so it makes 2 x 1lb (450g) loaf shaped Christmas cakes.
Christmas Loaf Cakes are going to be your new favourite thing… They are perfect for smaller households and ideal to make and give as gifts. And they are super easy to make, easy to decorate, easy to store and easy to slice!
You can also freeze the undecorated cakes – perfect if you want to get ahead!
So easy to make…
All you need to do is place a bag of dried fruit in a saucepan, add sherry (see the recipe card for alternatives), orange juice and boiling water. Bring to the boil, then simmer.
Meanwhile, beat together butter and sugar, and add the eggs, flour and spices. Then add in the boiled fruit and plus some glacé cherries and tip the cake mixture into two lined 1lb (450g) loaf tins.
Finally, bake in a preheated oven for just 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean! (No skewer? No worries! Just use a teaspoon handle instead 😀 )
And super simple to decorate…
And it’s not just the Christmas loaf cake that’s easy to make… the Christmas loaf cake decoration is also super easy… and yet looks really pretty!
Simply roll out shop-bought marzipan and cut out a rectangle the same size as the cake. (I use the cake tin as a guide to get my rectangle the right shape!) Lightly brush the cake top with a very small amount of water and then pop the marzipan circle on top. (This is just to help the marzipan to stick – don’t go too mad here… You don’t want to make your cake wet!)
Next, roll out shop-bought fondant icing and cut out a rectangle the same size as the cake. (Again, I use the cake tin as a guide to get my rectangle the right shape!) Lightly brush the marzipan with a very small amount of water and then pop the fondant rectangle on top.
Finally, use an assortment of star cutters (or other Christmas shapes!) to cut out stars from the remaining marzipan. Lightly brush the underside of the marzipan stars with water and arrange on top of the cake.
All of this takes just 15 minutes to do, but looks very effective… And it is SO MUCH easier than trying to cover the whole cake – sides and all – with marzipan and fondant icing.
Why boil the fruit?
You might be wondering why I boil the fruit for this recipe…
Well, most Christmas cake recipes require you to soak the dried fruit overnight… it makes the cake wonderfully moist and infuses it with sherry (or whatever tipple you prefer). But it’s a bit of a faff!
However, boiling the fruit achieves all the same benefits but in a fraction of the time! All you need to do is place the dried fruit in a large saucepan, along with the sherry (or whatever tipple you prefer – see the recipe for alternatives), orange juice and some water. Then bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes – by which time the fruit will be juicily plump and infused with gorgeous flavours.
Honestly, once you’ve tried this method, you’ll never bother soaking the dried fruit overnight again – it’s so easy peasy!
(And if you want to make this booze free, simply use apple juice instead of the alcohol.)
No need to feed
Because this cake is already stuffed full of boozy, plump and juicy fruit, there’s no need to feed this cake with alcohol. It tastes amazing, just as it is. (Though if you want to feed it, that’s totally fine too – see below.)
How to feed a Christmas cake…
This cake tastes great, just as it is. But if you want to feed it with alcohol here’s how…
- Leave the cake to cool completely.
- Make several small holes in the top of the Christmas cake, using a skewer or knitting needle (or similar).
- Spoon approximately 4 teaspoonfuls of brandy over the top of your cake. (If you don’t like brandy – gin, whisky and rum also work well.)
- Carefully wrap the cake in a layer of baking paper and two layers of foil.
- Repeat once a week, up to a maximum of 4 times.
- Ensure you re-wrap your cake carefully each time after feeding.
- Leave at least a week after the last feed before you ice your cake.
How to store homemade Christmas cake
I’ve designed this Christmas Loaf Cake so you can make it and decorate it all in one day. Once decorated, this cake should ideally be kept in an airtight tin to stop it going stale.
Alternatively, if you want to store this Christmas loaf cake before decorating, wait until the cake is completely cold, wrap first in a layer of baking paper and then a layer of foil. Ideally you would then put the cake in an airtight tin. However, if you can’t find a cake tin the right size, simply wrap in a second layer of foil.
How long will Christmas cake last?
Un-decorated, and correctly stored (see above), a homemade Christmas cake will last for up to 6 months, though I recommend eating within 3 months for the optimal flavour and texture.
Once iced, a homemade Christmas cake will only last for a few weeks – a month at most. But for optimal flavour, I recommend eating within 2 weeks.
However, this cake is so delicious, I doubt it will even last that long. (It doesn’t in this house!)
Can you freeze Christmas cake?
Amazingly yes! You can freeze the un-decorated cake. First wrap in baking paper and a double layer of foil – as explained above, then pop it in your freezer, where it will keep for up to a year.
Defrost at room temperature and decorate as above.
I wouldn’t recommend freezing an iced Christmas cake, however, as the marzipan and fondant icing do not fare well in the freezer!
If you like this recipe…
…you might also like:
Easy Christmas Loaf Cake
For the cake…
- 500 g mixed dried fruit ideally including mixed peel – see note
- Juice of 1 orange
- 100 ml sherry or brandy / whisky / gin / rum - or use apple juice if you want this to be alcohol free
- 100 ml boiling water
- 150 g butter softened plus extra for greasing
- 150 g soft dark brown sugar (or muscovado sugar)
- 2 large eggs
- 150 g self-raising flour (US - self-rising flour)
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice (or pumpkin spice)
- 1 teaspoons cinnamon
- 200 g glacé cherries halved
- 250 g marzipan (I prefer the paler ‘natural’ colour… but the bright yellow stuff works too!)
- 250 g white fondant icing
- Icing sugar (US - confectioner's sugar) (for rolling out the marzipan and fondant icing)
For the cake…
- Place the dried fruit in a large saucepan. Squeeze over the juice of the orange and pour over the sherry and boiling water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. Leave to stand until needed.
- Preheat your oven to 160C / 140C fan / gas mark 3 / 325F. Line 2 x 1lb (450g) loaf tins with loaf tin liners.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar thoroughly.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture until smooth after each one.
- Gently fold in the flour, mixed spice and cinnamon until fully incorporated.
- Add the glacé cherries and the dried fruit, plus any remaining liquid from the saucepan. (There should be very little liquid left, as most of it will have soaked into the fruit or evaporated.) Stir gently until the fruit is evenly distributed.
- Tip the cake mixture into your prepared loaf tins and get them straight into the oven. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer, inserted into the middle of the cake, comes out clean. (I check every 5 minutes from 50 minutes. It usually takes 55 minutes in my oven.)
- Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin (or until cool enough to handle without burning your hands!), then remove the cake from the tin and allow to fully cool on a wire cooling rack… The cake should take approximately 2 hours from the time it comes out of the oven to cool fully. Do not decorate until completely cool!
- Dust your worksurface with icing sugar. Take 200g of the marzipan and roll it so it is big enough to cut 2 rectangles out the same size as the top of the 2 cakes. Cut the 2 rectangles out, using the cake tin as a guide to help you get the right size.
- Brush the 2 loaf cakes with a very small amount of cold water. (This is to help the marzipan stick to the cake – but be very sparing, you don’t want to make the cakes wet!)
- Place 1 marzipan rectangle on top of 1 of the loaf cakes and trim any overhanging edges with a sharp knife. Repeat for the other loaf cake, so both cakes are covered with a single layer of marzipan.
- Roll out the white fondant icing so it is big enough to cut 2 rectangles out the same size as the top of the 2 cakes. Cut the 2 rectangles out, again using the cake tin as a guide to help you get the right size.
- Brush the marzipan layer with a very small amount of cold water.
- Place 1 fondant rectangle on top of the marzipan layer on 1 of the loaf cakes and trim any overhanging edges with a sharp knife. Repeat for the other loaf cake, so both cakes are covered with a single layer of marzipan, topped with a single layer of fondant icing.
- Roll out the remaining marzipan and cut out a variety of different sized stars. (Or whatever Christmas shapes you like!)
- Place these stars at random on top of the cakes, using a little cold water on the back of each star to stick them down.
- Your cakes are now ready to eat!
- Ideally you want the dried mixed fruit to be a mix of sultanas, raisins, currants and candied mixed peel. You can usually find this ready mixed in supermarkets. I use THIS ONE If you can't find it ready mixed, buy the ingredients individually and go for these proportions: 40% sultanas / 30% raisins / 20% currants / 10% candied mixed peel.
- This recipe makes 2 x 1lb (450g) Christmas Loaf Cakes. If you only want to make 1 Christmas Loaf Cake, simply halve the recipe.
- Suitable for freezing. (Cake ONLY - see above for instructions.)
- Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
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