This Easy Peasy Christmas Cake is a well tried and tested family recipe that has stood the test of time (several decades in my family). It doesn’t need feeding and so is suitable to give to kids – if they’ll eat it!!
My parents tell me have been cooking since I could hold a spoon. And one of the first things my parents got me making, believe it or not, was a Christmas Cake. There is a wonderful photograph of me aged about 2 in the kitchen with my Dad, barely able to see over the bowl, with my hands right in the Christmas cake mixture helping to ‘stir’ – if you want to see it, I’ve put it on Facebook and Instagram 🙂
Growing up there was always quite a strict division of labour in our house. Dad made the cakes and the roast dinners. Mum made the rest of the dinners, the bread and the non-cake puddings. And I’m not convinced there was ever any crossover! So consequently it was Dad who always made the Christmas cake. (With a little help, of course!)
And I have lots of happy memories of helping him. Now I have kids of my own and Dad is now the Grandpa, he has been passing on his Christmas Cake making wisdom to his grandchildren. We spent a lovely time one morning during half term this year making this Christmas cake together, all pitching in and having a stir – especially my daughter, who I think will be making Christmas cakes single-handedly in a year or two!
Naturally, I spent the whole time taking photographs. I think my family must have thought I was a bit bonkers by the end! But it did mean I caught this wonderful image of my father helping my daughter. It really captures the spirit of the morning.
In truth, there is never going to be a really easy peasy Christmas cake recipe, they all involve a certain amount of work. But as Christmas Cake recipes go this is definitely one of the easiest I’ve seen.
Plus as a bonus (or not, depending on how you look at it), this cake doesn’t need feeding with alcohol as other recipes do. I’m sure you could feed it, if you really wanted to, but it’s not necessary – meaning this one is suitable for kids and those avoiding alcohol. There is a small amount of alcohol in the mixture, but cooking for such a long time in the oven means this should all cook off. If you are worried about it, you could substitute with apple juice.
It might not be loaded with booze, but this cake is still full of flavour and has a wonderful texture. It’s great eaten just as it is, or with a chunk of cheese as my family have always done. (Please don’t tell me we’re the only ones?? My husband thought we were all bonkers the first time he spent Christmas with us.)
Or you could decorate this cake simply with marzipan and icing. I like to use the ready-rolled marzipan and icing, glued on with just a smidgen of apricot jam or shredless marmalade.
This cake is edible from the day you make it, but improves if kept wrapped in tin foil for a few weeks or more. I think Mum and Dad once managed to keep a cake until Easter and it still tasted good!
If you are planning to decorate the cake, it’s best to do so no more than a few days before you plan to start eating it, as the cake stores best without the icing.
And the best wine matches for Christmas cake? Well, in my opinion, it has to be sweet and preferably fortified. A sweet sherry or a tawny port are perfect. My absolute favourite sweet sherry is Lustau East India Solera Sherry, which you can get from Waitrose and goes brilliantly with Christmas cake – it’s a match I’ve tried on many occasions and it always works brilliantly!
Easy Peasy Christmas Cake
- 250 g softened butter
- 250 g light soft brown sugar
- 250 g sultanas
- 250 g seedless raisins
- 250 g currants
- 60 g ground almonds
- 125 g diced mixed peel
- 125 g glace cherries
- 3 large eggs
- 50 ml sherry (or apple juice if you want to make this alcohol free)
- 1 very heaped tablespoon golden syrup
- 250 g self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- Shredless marmalade or sieved apricot jam
- Ready-rolled marzipan
- Ready-rolled white icing
- Decorations (optional)
- A large mixing bowl
- Two smaller mixing bowls and a little bowl for the cherries
- A jug
- A 20cm / 8 inch cake tin
- Greaseproof paper
- Brown paper
- Baking sheet
- A skewer
- A cooling wire
- Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale.
- In a separate bowl mix together the flour, ground almonds and spices.
- Wash the sultanas, raisins and currants and place in a third bowl together with the chopped mixed peel.
- Rinse and dry the cherries. Place in a small bowl and dust with a little flour (to stop them sinking in the cake).
- In a jug, mix the eggs, golden syrup and sherry (or apple juice).
- Line the base and sides of a 20cm / 8inch cake tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper, having greased the tin first. Make sure the paper which lines the sides stands 7cm above the rim of the tin.
- To ensure the cake does not have a hard base, line a baking sheet with 4 layers of thick brown paper.
- Preheat your oven to 165C / 145C fan / gas mark 3 / 325F.
- Add a handful (or large spoonful) of flour to the creamed butter and sugar. Then add a small amount of the egg mixture and a handful of the fruit mixture and work together well, ideally with your hands (but you could do it with a wooden spoon if you don’t fancy the idea of getting your hands messy).
- Repeat this process until all the ingredients are well mixed, then finally add the cherries and mix again.
- Put the mixture in the prepared tin and flatten down evenly.
- Place the cake tin on the prepared baking sheet and put into your preheated oven for 1 hour.
- Reduce the heat to 150C / 130 fan / gas mark 2 / 300F and cook for a second hour.
- Cover with a little hat of greaseproof paper and bake for a third hour.
- Remove from the oven and check it is cooked properly by inserting a skewer – the skewer should be clean when removed.
- Trim the greaseproof paper back to the level of the tin’s rim and place on a cooling wire upside down still in its tin.
- Leave until completely cold (ideally the next day).
- Slide the cake out, wrap securely with foil and store in a cake tin until Christmas.
- Cover the entire cake in warmed shredless marmalade (or sieved apricot jam).
- Place the ready-rolled marzipan onto the cake and gently smooth down the sides. Trim off any excess. Lightly cover and leave for 1-2 days, ideally.
- Lightly brush the marzipan with water and place the ready-rolled icing on top of the cake. Gently smooth down the sides and trim off any excess.
- Decorate if desired.
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