Recipe: Gran’s Christmas Cake and Christmas Cake Decorating

Gran's Christmas Cake

Gran’s Christmas Cake

No Christmas is complete without the main event – Christmas cake. To my mother’s great disappointment, I do not hide the fact that I think my Gran makes the best Christmas cake, so I shall share this recipe with you all (although perhaps a touch too late so you shall have to make it next year!).


– 12oz self-raising

– 1/2 tsp salt

1 dessert sp mixed spice

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 lb ground almonds

1 lb currants

1 lb raisins

1 lb sultanas

1/2 lb chopped glacé cherries

1/4 lb chopped blanched almonds

1/2 lb chopped whole mixed citrus peel

rind and juice of 1 large lemon

12oz unsalted butter

10oz soft light and dark brown sugar (my gran says she mixed a ratio according to whatever she has in the cupboards, but if you have enough sugar, it would make sense to do 5oz of each)

8 large eggs

(1 large egg + dash of milk)

4+4 tbsp brandy

apricot glaze (of apricot jam warmed and put through a sieve to remove pulp)

yellow marzipan

white ready-to-roll icing

(I have left the ingredients old-school as my Gran has written them –  apologies if you’ll need to change it all to grams!)


(preheat oven to 150*c double line an 8″ square baking tin with baking paper and wrap the tin in 2 payers of brown paper which protrudes 2″ above the tin)

– sift dry ingredients, then add mixed fruits and stir together

– in another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, then add the lemon rind

– beat in 8 eggs one at a time

– stir wet ingredients into dry, then add the lemon juice and 4tbsp brandy and mix well

– at this point, the mixture should be soft and moist – according to the consistency of your mixture, you may want to add the extra egg and a dash of milk specified in the ingredients list

– spoon mixture into your baking tin and level off with a spoon

– bake at 150*c for 1 1/2 hours, then reduce temperature to 125*c and bake for a further 3-3 1/2 hours until cooked through

* if your cake is browning too quickly on top, cover loosely with a little baking paper

– when out of the oven, allow cake to cool completely, then wrap in foil and store for 6 weeks

– a week of so before Christmas, unwrap your cake and lay upside down in the foil

– prick cake with a skewer and drizzle over 4tbsp brandy to soak in

– recover cake with foil and leave for a few days before icing

**ice your cake upside down so that you have a perfectly flat, squared edge surface

– to ice, gently warm your apricot glaze and paint over the whole cake, including the sides

– first cover with a layer of yellow marzipan (rolled out to around 2-3mm thick) then with a layer of ready-to-roll white icing (rolled out to the same thickness as the marzipan)

Decorating your Christmas Cake

My Gran always goes for a simple, but yummy royal icing. I love the way royal icing has a glass-like crust and sugary-creaminess below and it always looks elegant and classic.

At home, I get creative and each Christmas I challenge myself to outdo last year’s cake decoration. I lovingly leave the tedious job of perfectly glazing, marzipan-ing and icing the cake to mum before unleashing my design.

Precision icing left to mum

Precision icing left to mum

Here are photos from the past few years:

Christmas Cake 2009

Christmas Cake 2009

Christmas Cake 2011

Christmas Cake 2011

Christmas Cake 2012

Christmas Cake 2012

Last year’s cake was by far my best yet. A lovely little christmas tree scene complete with adorable napping cat. I used coloured roll-out icing to create little presents, a rug and the cake and then mixed green food colouring and cornflakes into melted white chocolate to then form into a cone with the help of some baking paper lines cardboard for the tree. Finish off with some squeezy glitter icing and silver balls and hey-presto – a christmas tree!

Christmas Cake 2013

Christmas Cake 2013

Christmas Cake 2013

Christmas Cake 2013

Christmas Cake 2013

Christmas Cake 2013

Christmas Cake 2013

Christmas Cake 2013

Christmas Cake 2013

Christmas Cake 2013

And now for this year’s cake. Drumroll please…

Send in a photo of your design and have it displayed on this post! 🙂


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