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traditional christmas cake with cherries on table

Recipe: Traditional Christmas Cake

As we count down the weeks until Christmas, the UnserHaus team are sharing their Christmas family food traditions. Here’s Shannon’s recipe for Traditional Christmas Cake.

Christmas isn’t complete without a traditional slice of Christmas cake. It projects me back to sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen watching her mix the same recipe our family has used for the last 50 years. Here’s a little backstory.

In 2014 I was searching through a box my mother kept of my grandmothers things. I discovered a stack of old recipes that my grandmother had saved in a folder. As I searched through the recipes I was overwhelmed with memories of my childhood sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen as she prepared jellied guava, stem ginger, pickled vegetables and of course the Christmas cake she made every year.

While the recipe above is detailed, it does leave out the bit that I loved the most. She started seasoning the fruit in July every year. Every weekend I would go over to her house and be allowed to mix the fruit and add a little more brandy to the fruit if it looked to dry. By the time November rolled around the fruit was ready to be turned into a Christmas cake. Nana would cook 2-3 cakes and then pop them in a cake tin to sit and mature until a week or two before Christmas.

Now I make that same recipe every year starting the fruit in June and baking my cakes in November. I do admit the only difference is that between November and Christmas the cakes had the added detail that I continue to add brandy weekly to the cake, so they really are full of Christmas cheer!

Serves: 10-16 slices
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Ready In: 30 minutes to prepare plus cooling time and four hours to cook
Appliance/cookware used: Cooktop/Oven and cake mixer


250g cranberries
250g raisins
500g other dried fruit
250g brown sugar
1 cup brandy or other liquor
1 tbsp treacle
275g Butter
1 tbsp cornflour
50g whole almonds, roughly chopped
50g brazil or macadamia or nuts
4 large eggs, beaten
½ tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp all spice
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
250g flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda

Note: These fruits can be exchanged for any other dried fruit you prefer – 1kg in total


  1. Put fruit, butter, sugar and treacle into large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to stop the mixture burning.
  2. Add lemon, spices, salt, nuts and brandy and mix to fully combine.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring continuously.
  4. Remove from the heat and immediately add the corn flour bit by bit, mixing thoroughly.
  5. Leave to cool completely (approx. 1 ½ hours)
  6. Preheat oven to 160°C on Conventional top and bottom heat and line a 23cm tin with 2-3 layers of baking paper (preferably brown).
  7. Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda into a separate bowl.
  8. Bit by bit, alternately add the beaten eggs to cooled fruit mixture until all of the mixture is combined.
  9. Pour into your lined cake tin. Drop the tin on your bench a couple of times to ensure that there are no air bubbles in the mix.
  10. Place in the middle of your oven and bake at 160˚C for 30 minutes then 120˚C for 3½ hours.

A few extra notes:

• For the best result we advise you to make your cake a few weeks before Christmas, this will help to develop the flavours in the cake.
• For added flavour, you can make holes in the top of the cake with a skewer and every few days pour 1-2 tablespoons of your favourite liquor or spirit over the top of the cake. Do remember to warn people that it will have alcohol in it.
• There are many ways to decorate your cake. Soften 2tbsp of jam and 1 tbsp. of water in a pot. Use a pastry brush to coat the top of the cake with your jam and then decorated the cake with your favourite nuts and dried fruits. Brush with a little more jam on top to give it a gloss.

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