Easy Christmas Cake - The Rehearsal {Recipe}

Thursday, 7 November 2013

In Britain, you can get ahead of Christmas preparations by making your Christmas cake (or pudding) on Stir-up Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent - 24 November this year. It is thought that the name originated from the collect for the day from the Book of Common Prayer, which begins: 'Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord'... 

As this is probably going to be the cake for Baby MiH's baptism, I really needed to try the recipe before decided that this was the cake (and no I did not just want my house to smell of Christmas). And it is good, really good.  

The recipe is from the Good Housekeeping Easy to Make! Christmas and it is super easy and quick.. I have a feeling it may not be the traditional recipe, but you have to start somewhere.. And to be honest it tastes very nice, so I am not sure I can be bothered to find another one - unless someone tell me otherwise in the comment box of course!

Just a note - I halved all the measurements as this was a first trial. I realised that in fact I did not have saucepan big enough for all the ingredients. I give you the full recipe, and leave it up to you. 

  • 1kg luxury mixed dried fruits 
  • 100g ready-to-eat pitted prunes, roughly chopped
  • 50g ready-to-eat dried figs, roughly choppped (I used dried apricots as I could not find figs)
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 2 balls preserved stem ginger in syrup, grated and syrup reserved
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 175ml of brandy 
  • 2 splashes Angostura bitters
  • 175g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 275g dark muscovado sugar
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 medium eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 150 C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20.5cm round, deep cake tin with greaseproof paper. 

Put all the dried fruit in a large pan and add the ginger, 1 tbsp reserved ginger syrup, orange zest and juice, brandy and Angostura bitters. Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the butter and sugar and heat gently to melt. Stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves. 

Take the pan off the heat and leave to coll for a couple of minutes. Add the flour, spices and beaten egg and mix well.  

Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth it down evenly - you will find this is easiest with the back of a metal spoon which has been dipped into boiling water.

Bake for 2-2 1/2 hours until the cake is dark golden in appearance and firm to the touch. Cover the top of the cake with foil if it starts to darken too much. To check the cake is done, insert a fine skewer into the centre - if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

This cake is really yummy so unlikely to last a week - so I will be back on 24 November to make it en famille, what will you be doing on Stir-up Sunday? have you got another baking tradition? 

And this is my contribution to the Making Christmas blog hop..


I am also on le challenge today talking about stripes, and my stripey entry


  1. That fruity cake looks mighty interesting. Is this the type of cake that Prince William wanted for his wedding? What's it look like inside? Will baby get some too? Oh, wait, he might be too young :O)?

  2. In New Zealand our Christmas traditions are very English - lots of people will be making their Christmas cakes soon. I have to admit that I don't like fruit mince so I'm not a fan of Christmas cake or Christmas mince pies. Can't think of any other cake you can make a month in advance though, so I guess I will be sewing on Stir-up Sunday ;-)

  3. Didn't know that's where the name came from! Don't forget the booze to feed the cake :D I don't really like fruit cake, so might make stollen to freeze for Christmas Day.

  4. thanks for the reminder, bought a new cake tin last week. I am a Delia fan but your cake looks good, might try it for an "eating cake".

  5. Is this the British "mince pies" I've heard about here and there?..

  6. Your cake looks delicious. I love the smell of Christmas cake cooking :)