Christmas Cake – preparing for festivity!

With the addition of Sailor Jerry to this fruit cake you’ll have a spicy soaked fruit sensation for this year’s festivities

This year I am making my first Christmas Cake!  Exciting times I know…although a little white lie as I made one when I was in high school as a surprise for my Mum and Grandma, that was entertaining trying to buy miniatures without them knowing!  The one problem with Christmas Cake and the reason we have not united in Baking-Matrimony in so long is down to the devil’s MARZIPAN!  My mate Nic loves the stuff and yet I can’t think of anything worse…Christmas is full of the stuff…on Christmas Cake, in Stollen and even those damned marzipan fruits.  Anyhoo, I decided not to let this little hurdle prevent me from making a delectable delight which to be honest I could simply NOT marzipan.

So here is a nifty Zobird’s-Twist recipe inspired heavily by the wonderful Jamie Oliver, who I am loving with all his indulgent delights in his Comfort Food series and equally by leafing through his Save with Jamie book – in Costco for a bargainous £4.99!  His recipe you can find here or you can take a risk by trialling my interpretation below:


  • 500g raisins
  • 120g currants
  • 140g sultanas
  • 140g dried apricots
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 100g dried dates
  • 200g glacé cherries
  • 400ml booze, plus extra to ‘feed’ the cake (I used Sailor Jerry for an extra spicey kick)
  •  300g butter, at room temperature
  • 200g dark or light brown sugar
  • 1 lemon (zest only)
  • 4 free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp treacle
  •  300g plain flour
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 150g walnuts, chopped
This takes 2 days to make, so leave yourself enough time to soak the fruit the night before (see below) and then at least 3hrs for baking the next day or longer if you choose to make more than one cake from this mix.  This can reap you 1 large cake or 2/3 smaller ones.

A huge array of ingredients are needed for this flavour sensation

For a truly Zobird’s twist it only felt right to use Sailor Jerry or added spice…and booze-impact!

I also thought some tasty dates would be a bit of a different texture…hopefully a more sticky cake…chop these up

Add the dates to the raisins, sultanas, currants, apricots and cranberries…all in a large saucepan

Chop up the glacé cherries…I used a full pot…Mmmmm!

Add these to all the dried fruits and mix it up – Even distribution is the key!

Add the Sailor Jerry and turn on the hob until the fruit starts to simmer….stirring to make sure none of it sticks…

Empty everything in to a ceramic bowl and leave to cool.

Cover with a lid and then leave over night to truly saturate with the booze

The next day separate off half the soaked fruit and blitz in a food processor – this makes a much more moist cake

This blitzing just gives more depth of flavour and texture to the final cake

Line your tin…this recipe is for a single 23cm tin but I got 3 cakes made using a 16cm tin

Now beat together the light brown sugar and the butter

Add the zest

Now for the treacle and the eggs

Beat it as you go to ensure smoothness

Now get the flour, cinnamon, cloves and ginger measured out

Add the almonds to the dry and start alternating between the pre-soaked/blitzed fruit and the dry on a slow speed.

Chop the walnuts in to tasty chunks

Stir through your mix until evenly distributed

Now to transfer to the tin. I got 3 ladles of mix to each batch I made…level the top with a wet spoon…Bake at 150degrees for 2 and a 1/2hours, checking it in the last hour every 20mins with a skewer inserted

Remove from the oven and brush the top with some more Sailor Jerry, leave it for another 5mins in the tin and then carefully remove to a large sheet of tin foil. Wrap it up tight to cool slowly…I also then wrapped it in a kitchen towel. At this point I started cooking the 2nd cake using the same tin

After 2hours of the cake cooling gradually in the foil and tea towel, remove from its toasty parcel…It may still be warm! Plus it’ll smell LUSH!!!

Prepare 2 large sheets of foil and a new piece of greaseproof…place the cake in the centre and wrap it up like a tasty parcel…I went for the ‘bring it all to the middle’ approach as you will need to access this over the next 8weeks or so.

Now place in air tight tins or containers and repeat (if making the 2 or 3 cakes)

At this point the cakes can be stored in a cool place in the containers until you decide to ‘feed’ the cake.  i will be feeding mine once a week for the next 7 weeks before icing them…and marzipan for my mum!

To feed the cake you can brush the top and let it sink in but using a cocktail stick to stab holes in to the cakes will help the booze soak further through.  I’m going to be putting about an extra tablespoon per week in to the cake.

There’s still time to make this and feed it plenty before Christmas, so why not give it a go.

Happy Baking

Zobird xxx

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