Mary Berry's Christmas cake

(934 ratings)

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

  • Prep time:

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

    (may need an extra 15 mins)
  • 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! This delicious Christmas cake will be the talk of your Christmas meal or party. Made with fruits including currants, raisins and cherries and soaked with a rich sherry, the sponge is fruity and moist. Mary Berry's Christmas cake is topped with an easy to make royal icing and decorated with a festive ribbon. This cake is simple to recreate at home and has to be one of our favourite bakes. This recipe was taken from Mary Berry's Christmas Collection book. Serve this cake with a dollop of brandy butter for a real Christmassy experience. The whole family are going to love tucking into this cake.


  • 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

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.


  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

For more Christmas inspiration, take a look at our Christmas recipe collection.

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  • 4
(934 ratings)

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I made this cake fir Christmas this year and followed the recipe to the letter. I'm an experienced baker and its not often I am disappointed with something I bake but I was with this cake. It was too crumbly and could not be sliced properly. To new it seemed too much fruit and not enough cake!! I will go back to my old recipe which is in a BeRo flour book of cake recipes that I acquired forty years ago. Was never disappointed with that one. Recipe needs looking at and maybe revising.


Only made the cake yesterday, turned out great, the only differences I made were instead of 1.38kg fruit I used 1kg. And I didn't need to keep it in the oven for 4 1/2 hours, only needed 3 1/2 hours 😃


Had plenty of replies to tell me it is the best tasting Christmas cake, they have ever tasted. Thankyou.


I'm just about to make this cake (although I realise it's getting a bit close to Christmas to feed it properly :-s), and it's the first one I've done from scratch. I made one a few years ago with one of those kits and remember wrapping the outside of the tin and putting a lid of paper with a hole on top. Do I not need to do that with this cake? Will the sides not catch? Also, with 'double lining' - should I grease and line one layer, and then grease and line a second layer so that it's all fixed to the side of the tin, just put a second layer of loose paper inside the first, or just fold over a single piece? Sorry for the daft question, it's the first time I've made a proper fruit cake, I'm more used to just basic lining for sponges!


Hi. Can anyone help? I just made my first Christmas cake and used sr flour by mistake. The oven is on at 140 will it be ok? Because c cake is dense I almost filled the cake mixture to the top of the tin

pamela melling

Just made this cake I've used cream sherry will it be ok ? .....

Irina Smith

Absolutely fantastic recipe. Did it to the T, with only difference that i substituted glace cherries with dry prunes and dry figues. Baked it for 4 hrs, covered with foil after 2. Anyhow, dont know what some of ppl did wrong, coz it turned out absolutely fab, definetely going to make it every year.

James Smyth

Do I put the dried fruit mix in the fridge for three days?


I agree I have been making this cake for the last 4 hours I find it quick and easy compared to some. The cake is only as good as the ingredients you put into it. Good sherry, butter etc. I have never had this cake turn out bad. I also tried the packs in Tesco. Bought a load when they went on sale. Adjusted some recipes and and put marzipan through the middle of one for Easter Simnel cake. I think Mary is an amazing women.#


Yes mine normally takes around the 3 hour mark


Well done Peter. Good for you. There was a builder on the Great British Bake Off this year. so your in good company.


No it's not impossible to make a christmas cake without sugar. My daughter is a diabetic so I make two cakes. Hers is filled with all natural fruit and no added sugar. They are both equally nice.


Yes, or maple syrup.


By the time the cake is baked there is no alcohol left in there. Your kids can have it no problem.


It would depend on what diameter your tin is, if you use a smaller tin than recommended the cake will be deeper and take longer to cook. However, that is what I was checking as I have two recipes, one says 4-4.5 hours, the other says 3-3.5 hours - same amount of ingredients and same cake size! My oven tends to be on the hot side. If you have a problem with it not cooking (the one in the post above by nocolee looks undercooked) then invest in an oven thermometer. I have never had a cake turn out like that one!

Irina Smith

yes, you have to get rid of the syrup, you wash them very well and then pat them well with paper towel till they are fairly dry. Mary spoke about this in British Bake Off - The Masterclass, this season.


Do you steep the cherries if they are glace? Thanks!


Do you steep the cherries also?


We had this as our wedding cake, made with brandy. The top layer was wrapped in 2 layers of grease proof paper, one layer of foil and it survived for 2 1/2 years! (We had it professionally re-iced for the christening of my oldest daughter). It was delicious, we were all surprised how well it lasted.

averil johnson

Firstly, Sammy Scofield needs to learn how to spell. Secondly, great recipe, great cake. Brings back memories of 1940's Post War England.


I knead to add extra cherries because the kids kept taking them from the mixture. Is it ok to add non washed cherries without soaking. Any veiws?


Baked this cake last night it took over 5 hours but I think that is because I added extra sherry and orange juice to the fruit when I soaked them for 3days it is worth baking long and slowly on low heat turned out lovely. The only thing I say is make sure it's nice even on top before you put into bake as mine has a slight slope! Going to hide it with icing no one will know : )


Really easy to make I used jack Daniels honey instead of sherry and because I had a slightly smaller cake tin I had some mixture left over so cooked that as a taster, it turned out a very nice moist fruit cake, I put in extra nuts instead of peal and got a lovely nutty fruit cake thanks Mary berry.


are you only meant to feed once? I thought you had to feed a fruit cake for a few weeks. Can someone please advise me as have made the cake and now don't know what to do?1


It is not cooked. Some Christmas cakes take 15 hours to cook. All ovens vary. The best way to cook a Christmas cake is on a very low temperature for a very long time.

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