Christmas cake made easy

Hello again.

As Christmas is galloping towards us and if like our household any attempt at organisation is not going so well for you, then help is at hand!  I am going to offer you my tried and tested (virtually indestructible) boil n bake Christmas cake recipe.   The basic boil n bake (date n cider) cake is one of my favorites.   The recipe can be almost endlessly abused with substitutions and lack of attention to the process, or the quantities for that matter… and it will still turn out yummy.   For those of you, who like me don’t like faffing around needlessly then this is the cake for you.   It is such a great cake, that in our household it stands in as a substitute for christmas cake … with a few adaptations that i will give you below. (The prep and cooking of a traditional christmas cake definitely comes under the heading of requiring needless faffing in my books - this cake is virtually faff free guaranteed).   I make my boil n bake cake around this time of year and then forget about it until around 4pm on Christmas eve; when I then remember the need to marzipan and ice it!   On a good year I might remember to soak it in booze at some point, but this is not essential as it is such a moist cake anyway. 

(If I can get my act together I will make one this week to offer samples to those of you who come in to collect orders, or to browse the gift hampers and other goodies in the shop.   No promises tho as we are mid apple harvest this week and the weather is not being very kind to us).

Here is the recipe and method I use.  

The cider vat - Boil n bake  Christmas cake.   

(This makes 1 x  deep 8’’ or slightly shallower 9’’ cake).

In our house I have to make two cakes, or the boys fight over who has more than his fair share.  Some years I have to make three cakes - that is if I intend eating any cake, or heaven forbid it, want to offer cake to a visitor (apparently the sharing of Christmas cake does not come under the goodwill to all men edict of the season).  

I find that these cakes make lovely (much appreciated) gifts ...even if like me you icing skills are somewhat lacking. I think you can’t beat a homemade gift when it comes to showing your love  -- just don’t tell the Solland men that cake was given away!

You will need

  10oz dates (chopped)                                                                                                                                                 10 oz currants                                                                                                                                                            10 oz sultanas                                                                                                                                                            10 oz raisins                                                                                                                                                                    9 oz butter                                                                                                                                                                    9 oz soft brown sugar                                                                                                                                                  4 tbs golden syrup (I sometimes sub 2 tbs of black treacle but this is not essential)

Around 400 ml of cider - i like to use our Sampford Courtenay Warhorse or revenge cider

(Don’t like dates - no worries just add something different  or extra dried fruit - dried apricots would probably  work really well)   

Stage 1: Put all of the above in a large pan and simmer for around 10 mins whilst stirring it - until it has gone thick and gloopy. (Don’t wander off - with all that fruit and sugar in there it can burn on the base if not watched)

Stage 2; Allow this to cool slightly (if you don’t you will have issues with the eggs pre-cooking)

 Then mix in 3 (reg) eggs.                                                                                                                                           Add 3 tsp mixed spice to 10 oz of self raising flour and mix this into your cake mix also.   (Make sure there are no   flour lumps in the mix)

 Stage 3 is to “Christmas” up the basic cake mix to make it extra special.

(we miss out the mixed peel as we don’t like it in our house, but go for it and add some if you like it - in fact you can add whatever takes your fancy to make it special for your Christmas cake preferences … you have got around 12oz of any combination of fruits & nuts).  

(from my original  boil n bake date n cider cake recipe I had reduced the dates from 15 oz to 10 oz to accommodate the extra ingredients)

    Add around  12 oz of whatever takes your fancy...In the sample i made to show everyone I used...

  • 4oz + of chopped cherries (we like cherries so it was probably nearer 6 oz!)
  •  4 oz of walnut pieces  (because i didn’t have any chopped mixed nuts)
  • 4 oz of flaked almonds
  •  the zest of one orange.  (if you don’t want to eat the orange + the juice - I ate mine!)
  • 4 oz of ground almonds.

The end mix will be still quite sticky and not as thick as a normal rich fruit cake. (Don’t panic if it looks a bit sloppy, it will still turn out just fine)

Line a deep 8”tin with grease proof paper and fill tin to 1 cm from top

(Handy no faff tin lining hint - choose a square tin!    Spread some butter on the base & sides of the tin.  Take a long sheet of grease proof paper.   fold in half length ways - tear in half.   Place one sheet in each direction in tin (to form a cross) press into corners.  Done! )

Cook @ 160C for about 2 hr.  (This is the thing with this cake - be prepared for a different cook time as it will depend on how sloppy your final mix turned out).  Oven temps vary quite a bit so have a look after about 40 min and turn down if looking like it is catching.  Use the knife test to see if cooked through. (No goo on knife = cooked)  If like me this is normally an evening activity and you suddenly feel the need to go to bed and are losing the will to live waiting for it to finish -- just turn the oven off when it is nearly done and leave it in there overnight.

This cake is great for storing and improves with age so make ahead and wrap in foil....  It also copes well with a bit of alcohol soaking if you like your cakes marinated.   Marzipan and ice to suit, or for a different, twist why not place dried fruits on the top - simply decorate the top of your cooked cake with whatever you fancy -- cherries, walnuts, dried apricots, whole almonds are a great combo and glaze with melted apricot jam. 

* Too much mixture to fit in tin?  Handy hint no 2!:-  If like me you are not into weighing things and go with the “some”  technique to baking, then it is often the case that my cake tin would overfloweth if all the mix is used.   On these days I make an extra treat for the family.   

Spiced apple n fruit slice.

Assess how much fruit cake mix you have spare and adjust your sponge recipe below to suit                             Make an all in one sponge mix of around the same volume of the left over fruit cake mix.

All in one sponge is easy (no faff!) 

Simply Per egg used - add 2oz of each of these... butter / SR flour & caster sugar  (make to any size you like)

(My normal overflow mix would be a three egg mix -- so that would be 8oz cake mix)

Bung it all in a bowl and beat the life out of it until it looks “fluffy” add some milk if not “soft drop”  (should plop off the spoon end).                                                                                                                                                       Then mix the two cake mixes together.  Dice some apples (an apple / egg) into 1 cm ish lumps and toss these in 2 tsp of mixed spice then add to the mix.                                                                                                                                         Line a deep bake tray and bake for around 35 - 40 min @ 170c  (Do finger test to check the cook - it should be a firm-ish sponge)

Sprinkle with more caster sugar whilst the cake is still hot and slice when fully cold.

Buy the cake kit!
If you would like a go at making the boil n bake Christmas cake then you will find all of the individual ingredients listed on the web site.   Alternatively,  you can use the handy “Boil n bake Christmas cake kit” option Here to have everything you need to make this cake (apart from the tin & the greaseproof) added to your order.   … during the months of Nov & Dec I will add a couple of free bramley apples to any cake kit orders… just in case your cake making gets out of control and you need to make the overflow cake!

Alternatively   Buy a cake! - i can bake special requests please send me an email to 

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