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Mary Berry's Christmas cake

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Mary Berry's classic Victorian Christmas cake
  • Serves: 12

  • Prep time:

    (plus 3 days for soaking the fruit)
  • Cooking time:

    (may need an extra 15 mins)
  • Total time:

  • Skill level: Bit of effort

  • Costs: Mid-price

 

You can make Mary Berry's sherry-infused, Victorian-style Christmas cake well ahead of the big day - in fact, the longer you leave it, the better it will taste!

Ingredients

  • 175g (6 oz) raisins
  • 350g (12 oz) glace cherries, rinsed, thoroughly dried and quartered
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) currants
  • 350g (12oz) sultanas
  • 150ml ( pint) sherry, plus extra for feeding
  • Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 250g (9oz) butter, softened
  • 250g (9oz) light muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp black treacle
  • 75g (3oz) blanched almonds, chopped
  • 75g (3oz) self-raising flour
  • 175g (6oz) plain flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

To finish and decorate Mary Berry's Christmas cake:

  • About 3 tbsp apricot jam, sieved and warmed
  • Icing sugar
  • 675g shop-bought almond paste
  • Packet royal icing mix to cover 23cm/9in cake

That's goodtoknow

cartoon image of chef

You should make this cake at least three weeks ahead of Christmas, for if eaten too early it's crumbly. If you don't want to use alcohol, use the same quantity of orange juice. Instead of covering with icing, you could brush warmed apricot jam over the cake, then arrange glace fruits and nuts on top.

Method

  1. Put all the dried fruit in a container, pour over the sherry and stir in the orange zest. Cover with a lid, and leave to soak for 3 days, stirring daily. Grease and line a 23cm (9in) deep round tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 140C/Fan 120C/Gas Mark 1.
  2. Measure the butter, sugar, eggs, treacle and almonds into a very large bowl and beat well. Add the flours and mixed spice and mix thoroughly until blended. Stir in the soaked fruit. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.
  3. Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 4-4 hours or until the cake feels firm to the touch and is a rich golden brown. Check after 2 hours, and, if the cake is a perfect colour, cover with foil. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.
  4. When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer and feed with a little extra sherry. Wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and again in foil and store in a cool place for up to 3 months, feeding at intervals with more sherry. (Don't remove the lining paper when storing as this helps to keep the cake moist.)
  5. Decorate with almond paste and royal icing.

To prepare the Christmas cake ahead: Prepare the fruit and soak in sherry 3 days ahead - this is essential to plump up and flavour the fruit. Make the cake and wrap as in stage 4. Store in a cool place for up to 3 months, following stage 4. You could also freeze the cake before decorating, for up to 3 months; defrost at room temperature.

Mary Berry's Christmas Collection is available from Amazon, RRP 16.99

Average rating

  • 4
(392 ratings)

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What do you think of this recipe? Leave us your comments, twists and handy tips.

Your comments

Lynn

The cake will still taste lovely don't worry

Lynn

I use brandy and I have used rum and cheap sherry it doesn't really matter as long as you don't use all 3 lol Deidre Smiths recipe for Christmas cake is very similar and very nice

Mo

Looks good smells great but must wait till Christmas till we can taste! .......used port and brandy to soak fruit hic hic luffly!

jane

Made this as a test run as never made a Christmas cake I like - I iced it after 3 weeks and 3 days later it was gone!!!! Really nice particularly as there is no peel in it - all the family have put orders in for one!! Thanks Mary

Kelly

Has anyone tried this before? What's the best sort of sherry to use?

alison

Just been soaking my fruit for 1 day now and it smells awful I think its the sherry was only a cheap one (fino sherry) I'm just a bit worried that the cake is going to taste really bad too.

Dawn

Think I will give this cake a go...using Brandy!! Will make it in November.

sunrise

Could somebody please tell me if it would be acceptable to use Dissarano instead of sherry?

PonyMagReader:)

Can I use honey instead of sugar as I want to make a sugar-free (well, the only sugars being natural i.e. sultanas, currants,raisins ) Christmas cake :)

Rose

I've made this cake 2yrs running and it's absolutely gorgeous , always nice and moist. A family favourite.

Wendy Pettifer

hi catherine,i just use ordinary plain cheap sherry,and it is fine,ive also used rum,and its gorgeous,i wouldnt use a cream sherry though,hope this helps

Wendy Pettifer

sometimes they have a small mildew film on them its not harmful but you may like to rinse before use

Wendy Pettifer

and the cake is not disgusting,you could put rum or brandy in it instead

Wendy Pettifer

about 3inch deep

Sarah

I've used this recipe for the past 3 Christmas' and it's come out perfectly every time, this will always be my foolproof recipe as me and my family all love it!

catherine

can anyone let me know what sherry to use.

Claire

Can anyone who has made this advise how high the cake comes out please?

enid

Your outstanding comments speak for themselves

stha pooja

hi every! Wish u all Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2013

George

why rinse the cherries?

marc

just bought the cake bag but i have to cook it in 2x2LB cake tins does anybody know what to adjust the cooking time too

eloise

i bought the cake in a bag from Tesco! its the same ingredients as the recipe above (as far as i can tell) but all pre-weighed, soaked and easy to use. Baked it perfectly, no mess, no waste and looks and smells delicious. It even came with marzipan and icing, how easy is that!

Mgt

I've been making this cake (slightly modified over time) for about 25 years and my family always enjoy it.

Jo

This is a great christmas cake - i have used the recipe over and over again

sammy scofeild

it a bit exspensive for just a cake that isant raely that nice at all it quiet discusting

Gluce

I always use brandy. Amazing!

Gluce

wrap in a foil then air tight container. The alcohol doesn't taste strong, you would be fine to use in my opinion.

Gluce

Its so they don't stick together and are evenly dispersed

Kathrun

I fed mine with more orange juice :) don't want an alcoholic cake so have to feed it with orange juice. Does it keep just as long tho as one made with sherry? I made mine a couple weeks ago and bit worried it will Go stale as not made with alcohol... Is this true anyone?

Sandra

ive used cherry brandy to make it sweeter, but like you there didnt see any liquid so i added more probably at least another 150mls

Andrea

Hi Linda i'm using Brandy this time have you used it before, if so was it nice?

stuart (a cook)

which school did you attend? will be sure to stay away from it!!!!!!!!!!!!

M J Milford

I've just put the fruit in soak for the 3 days. I used half brandy half orange juice. Once I mixed it all together there doesn't seem to be any liquid in it. It just seems to have coated it. Is that normal. Xx

Kerrie

If i use orange Juice should i still feed it with more orange juice?

carley

just put mine in oven, been soaking the fruit in brandy for 3 days, smells wonderful (and I don't eat fruit cake!). fingers crossed it comes out fine.

shan

when soaking the fruit do i keep it in fridge for three days?

Wendy Pettifer

may be slightly cracked or uneven when cooled simply carefully slice off,voila! a taster lol

Wendy Pettifer

yes i made mine yesterday just wrap it well

Wendy Pettifer

not if you need to slice top off for a taster as my partener calls it! i do this so its even

Wendy Pettifer

no i made mine yesterday,always make in october,it tastes better

LouO

baking this now smells and looks lovely; iv used rum. how often should I feed the cake and when should I ice ?

Paula

I've never made a cake before - could I make this now and keep it in an air tight container? Also could I use apple juice instead as I would like my children to have some. Thanks

Coll

Is it too early for me to make the cake before the end of October?

hayley.

Just soaking my fruit,and will be baking my cake on monday. Iv used apple juice instead of sherry as id like my children to have some. (Never did like sherry in my nans christmas cakes..lol. ) here goes my first ever christmas cake. X

Linda Hesselden

I have soaked my fruit in brandy for 3days and have just cooked it this morning .its looking and smelling lovely.

Berry'stoenails

You can't even spell properly

Lynn

ha ha would be bit of a waste of a good drink but prob ok x

Lynn

Use cocktail sticks to make holes when feeding your cake

Lynn

Brandy is best!!!

Lynn

wouldn't advise it might spoil the cake

Della

I didn´t add nuts last year, turned out perfect.

Della

It's entirely up to you, you will be eating it. As preferance I have added figs and apricots. Good luck.

Wendy

Just wondered if I dont want to use 12oz cherries can I use more of the other fruits instead

Wendy

I intend to cook my cake this weekend but do not want to put any alcohol in, can I use orange juice instead.

Pattipancake

Do I have to put nuts in or can I add some more fruit, I have a nut allergy

billy

Can you still buy the mix pre made like last year and if so which shop?

Fitbits

My cake has been cooking for 5hrs smells amazing but the skewer is still coming out with cake on it............what have I done wrong. The top isn't burnt, it all looks fine, help

thequeenbee

I only have a deep cake tin which is 8.5 ins in diameter. Could I use this do you think?

Paula64

Used this recipe many times fab results every time I use rum or brandy soaking the fruits for 3-5 days for storage u must first wrap in parchment / grease proof then foil as the fruit can react to the foil feed once a wk with alcohol or apple/ orange juice marzipan and ice 3 days b4 eating

lwalt

Pat, an update, the cake has turned out fantastic so I would recommend an 8inch square cake tin.

lwalt

I've made this cake today and am using an 8 inch square cake tin, just in the oven at the moment. Delia has a cake converter on her site and I have used this to work out the size of square tin I need

Pat

has anyone any idea what size tin to use if you wanted a square cake please?

dbwik67

I haven't made this recipe yet so can't comment on it, but it seems like a lot of fruit compared to other cakes I've made.

Gayle Heinze

I made this this year and it smells lovely I added some candied peel because my hubby loves it , I fed it a medium sherry a tablespoon every week and when you open up the layers and wow its smells so yummy !

wendy.big.buns

Ive made this cake for the last three years and its always lovely. It takes some mixing by hand but its worth the effort. Making the forth one this weekend.

ShellyK

Bought all my ingredients today, to make this cake. Fruit soaking in sherry as we speak. I'll let you know how it turns out! I love Mary Berry's cakes, am 100% sure it's going to be absolutely deeeelicious!! :)

Rose

this is the best rich fruit cake that I have ever made, tastes wonderful and very moist. I have read a comment below which says it wasn't very nice - sorry love but you simply MUST have done something wrong!

Liberty

Can I use less sugar? Has anyone done this? Would I need to replace with another ingredient? Please help Xmas bakers:)

Lyn Mcdowell

i have made 4 of these cakes and now just baking a half sized one to eat now. sick of waiting for xmas lol. i worked it out to cost about £18 each cake but i am sure it will be worth it.

Maria

I've made four of these cakes and they have come out lovely..Obviously need to wait to taste it.But all in all they look good and smell lovely..So let's wait for the tasting !!!!!

spangle

You clearly didn't learn to spell , or learn any manners , how rude !

soph-123

Did anyone else's only take 3hr15min?

gwen

First time ive tried this, this is its 3rd day of soaking, so here goes, I used sherry, the fruit keeps drinking it, and i have to keep topping it up! ha ha. (it will be an adult only cake i think) Cant imagine anything that Mary does being disgusting after all her years of experience, im sure if you follow the recipe it will be lovely

Louis Knight-Adams

Hello, I am thinking of Making a Christmas Cake tomorrow, is it too late to start it now? If it is, is there any way I can speed up the process of making the fruit mature in the brandy? Thanks

Vic

Because it makes them less sticky and they distribute more evenly in the mixture. Hope i have spealt everything right do not want to get wrong.

caz

they sink to the bottom of a cake if you dont wash and dry them .

irene

Lowest form of debate or discussion is to correct the spelling or language of another

tarotmac

or you can freez it till about a week before you want it then feed with brandy. this will age it nicely

tarotmac

stops them all sinking to Btm of cake

Julie

Made this cake last year, really nice moist tasting cake. Enjoyed by everyone.

Brian

Looks to me as if the oven was not warm enough. Do you have an oven thermometer? The controls on many ovens seem very poor to me.

nicolee

I used this recipe to attempt my first ever Christmas cake. It was a DISASTER! It took forever to cook, much longer than the recipe stated. It was too moist. I only fed it once and even that was took much, had to use kitchen paper to get rid of the excess (I used 2 tbsp at most!) and to top it off, it fell apart so it was all a complete waste!

Sarah Long

This was the best Christmas cake I have ever made, using Sherry for it made a nice change. My family loved it. I am going to make it again for Easter.

Gyl

Made this cake for the first time this last christmas - amaaaazzzing!!!!! Needed nearer 5 hours cooking but it was the best christmas cake ever. Follow the recipe properly and you wont be disappointed.

clare

I wondered this too - I haven't been able to find it yet :(((

Gran

Answers and a question too. Sticky cherries tend to sink to the bottom of the cake, so I cut glace cherries then rinse in warm water and roll in a clean tea towel to dry while I'm chopping other fruit, adding them to cake after other fruit has been coated with flour. Vodka (or gin) - paint on and use as glue between marzipan and fondant icing - the icing smooths on with less air bubbles than if water is used. Royal icing - no spirit required. Also use vodka or gin to mix powdered food colourings to paint onto icing - spirit evaporates quickly so your "painting" dries rapidly. Now for my question. I normally use lots of cream sherry in a fruit cake, and lots more on the outside whilst it's maturing. Made a cake today and only had a small amount of sherry so used that but also added brandy. Once the cake is cooked, can I feed it with sherry or do I have to continue with the brandy which will, presumably, have a stronger flavour?

audreypet

I think it is a briliant cake.

Peter Austen

I am a retired bricklayer and not entirely conversant with cake making so I thought I would have a crack at Mary's cake. Well its quite a long winded affair what with soaking the fruit and all bit I stuck with it , despite my wife's comments that " Thats not the way I'd do it" were rather frequent. Anyway its done and I have to say its quite a success, very rich fruity and flavoursome so well done Mary and thankyou

mumra

I have loved this gorgeous cake every year since the 1980s, when I first found the recipe in Family Circle. I kept the old magazine for years, then, horror! Lost it, so had to rely on memory. The recipe got a bit changed over the years as a result, but today I found it again online. It's soaking the fruit for days that does it. Now I make it for my son in law as a Christmas gift every year as he likes it best even though he is a great Christmas cake connoisseur. This year it will be the authentic version, but adding cranberries. Thanks Mary Berry, your recipe has totally stood the test of time and I know it will be as great this year as ever. However, I'd better get a move on as I'm very late in baking it this year.

Kat

Hey come on now, no need to behave like that. If the lady did not enjoy the cake she is allowed to voice that unless George Orwell's concept of the thought police has been realised here, in the comments page of a Mary Berry recipe. Furthermore, you judge her spelling as if you know this person and her past education, what if this lady has dyslexia? That's a very difficult thing to live with. Anyway, good luck with the cake folks, I hope you enjoy it.

dawn

Hi everyone, I think I made a terrible mistake when baking this cake.. I accidentally had the temperature on at 150, not 140. 10 degrees doesn't seem like a huge amount, but I'd had the cake baking for 90 mins before I realised my mistake. I changed temperature and watched the cake like a hawk before taking it out after 3 hours 10 mins (cake seemed quite firm and no residue on the toothpick- couldn't find the skewers!) but I wonder if I've already done too much damage, ie, dried it out too much? Also, need advice re. storage: is it so necessary to have an airtight container, or does it work to simply store in paper and foil and keep in the cupboard as Mary Berry suggests? For the life of me I've been unable to find an airtight container. Thanks!

Heather

Does anyone know if Tesco are doing the pre done dry ingredients this year .Heather Chelmsford

Della

UPDATE!! I made my cake without problem and used some extra mix for some little tasters. It's delicious! and soaking the fruits for 3 days really helps keep in the moisture as does retaining the baking paper. FAB!!

Munch

Most recipes use medium eggs. I'm going to use medium

rowena55

what size eggs do I use

rowena55

Hi can anyone tell me what size eggs to use

SL

can I make the cake without adding sugar? Has any one tried because its sweet any way with fruits.

Chloe

Does it have to be made a couple of months before or could you make it in December ?

wendy

just soaking my fruit in orange juice, realised I have an 8ins round tin will this be ok to use.

Della

Soaking my fruits as I post. I have added some figs and apricots, as currants are hard to come by here in Belgium. Fingers crossed in 3 days my cake will be baked to perfection.

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