Mary Berry's Victorian Christmas cake

(298 ratings)
Mary Berry's Victorian Christmas cake
Mary Berry's Victorian Christmas cake
  • Makes: 1

  • Prep time:

  • Cooking time:

  • Total time:

    (plus 30 mins cooling time)
  • Skill level: Easy peasy

  • Costs: Splashing out

Try Mary Berry's traditional Victorian Christmas cake recipe for a rich but light cake - this cake is bejewelled with cherries and almonds. The queen of cakes, shows you how easy it is to knock up a light and traditional Christmas cake, packed with luxury dried fruit and nuts. This classic Victorian cake takes 15 mins to prepare and 2hrs and 15 mins to bake. It's well worth the wait and can be made in advance too. You can whip this cake anytime of year really - it's not just for Christmas you know! It's a mouth-watering, dense fruit cake packed with plenty of flavour.


  • 350g (12 oz) red or natural glacé cherries
  • 225 g (8 oz) can of pineapple in natural juice
  • 350 g (12 oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots
  • 100 g (4 oz) blanched almonds (skins removed)
  • Finely grated rind of 2 lemons
  • 350 g (12 oz) sultanas
  • 250 g (9 oz) self-raising flour
  • 250 g (9 oz) caster sugar
  • 250 g (9 oz) softened butter
  • 75 g (3 oz) ground almonds
  • 5 large eggs

To decorate:

Blanched almonds
Red or natural glacé cherries
Glacé pineapple (available from health-food shops)
100 g (4 oz) sifted icing sugar

You can also use a little apricot jam to brush over the fruit cake to glaze if you wish


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C fan/140°C/gas mark 3. Grease a 23 cm (9 in) deep round cake tin then line the base and sides with a double layer of baking parchment.
  2. Cut the cherries into quarters, put in a sieve and rinse under running water then drain well. Drain and roughly chop the pineapple, then dry the pineapple and cherries very thoroughly on kitchen paper. Snip the apricots into pieces. Roughly chop the almonds. Place the prepared fruit and nuts in a bowl with the grated lemon rind and sultanas and gently mix together.
  3. Measure the remaining ingredients into a large bowl and beat well for 1 min until smooth. Lightly fold in the fruit and nuts then turn the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Level the surface and decorate the top with blanched whole almonds, halved glacé cherries and pieces of glacé pineapple.
  4. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 2¼ hours or until golden brown. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Cover the cake loosely with foil after 1 hour to prevent the top becoming too dark.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 mins then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack. Mix the icing sugar with a little water, and drizzle over the cake to glaze.
This recipe is taken from Mary Berry's Baking Bible, published by BBC Books, priced £25 and available from Amazon

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Baked the cake but found it to sour with the apricots


I made this cake last Christmas and it was the best Christmas cake I have ever made! It was delicious, light and had everyone begging for more. Our family demolished the entire cake in one sitting. I would definitely recommend trying it next Christmas (or even all year round)!

Fiona Davis

This is a brilliant last minute cake.'First heard Mary "showing" this on Woman's Hour on the radio 15 years ago and scribbled it down while on floor doing exercises! You can put more toasted nuts and glacé fruit on after cooking glazed with dissolved icing sugar and brandy or heated sieved apricot jam. One year I made it using the Genoise method (whisking eggs and sugar and then folding in melted butter then flour last-but forgot to use the butter! it was still delicious as 'had macerated the fruit briefly in a slsh of brandy or sherry and lemon juice.Everybody loves it and you can use the pineapple tins to make small ones for gifting (Mary's suggestion) They look lovely wrapped with ribbon and doilies,'am so glad 'have found the recipe here again! By the way it's lighter and people seem to prefer it to the darker types.


Do you think it would freeze?

Mandy Graham

I make this in muffin form (with paper muffin cases), using 3/5ths of the ingredients noted above, plus 2.5ml salt, 2.5ml baking powder and finely grated zest of 3 lemons (extra zest is extra good!). It's immensely popular at office functions and for packed lunches. Decorate each muffin with a "flower centre" of half a cherry and "flower petals" of four blanched almonds, and be sure to press the halved decorative cherries and 4 decorative almonds down into the muffin dough ever so slightly so that they don't drift down the muffin as it rises during baking, or drop off too easily once muffins are removed from oven or served... I bake the muffins for 20 minutes, then pop a sheet of foil on top for a further 20 minutes, then remove from oven and immediately remove the muffins from the tray so that they don't sweat... Without a doubt this is my favourite Xmas cake recipe of all time!


Yes, you can. I've tried it and it was (nearly) as good as the original recipe. The trick is to add a little salt and a little more pineapple OR one more (small) egg: the gluten-free flour tends to be dryer and is usually 'tasteless'. Don't forget to add 2 tsp. of baking powder in the flour mix. This cake presents beautifully and you don't have to tell anyone it's made with gluten-free flour...

Norma Swift

Can you make this Christmas cake with gluten free flour, and how would it turn out?


I have made this cake for the past five years, its delicious. Will keep for a couple of weeks wrapped up well in a cool place.


how far on advance would this keep if i wanted it for xmas

Jan Perry

I made this cake one week before Christmas but then we got colds and flu and didn't feel like trying it until two days after the festivities - its light, moist, full of flavour and we agree - totally delicious! In answer to the above queries - yes it can be made in advance, and yes it does keep well! This will be our Christmas cake for the future!

Rebecca Earle

My Mum-in-law made this cake today. I am unsure if it is a keeper for Christmas but made fresh at the time no was totally delicious, I am so impressed! I will certainly be making it and have already passed the link to it on!

Elaine Churchill

I'm looking forward to making this for my family members who are not keen on rich and heavy traditional Christmas Cake. Can this cake, like the traditional, be made well in advance of Christmas, or should it be made near to the holiday?

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