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Let the Christmas baking begin!

by Sarah Alcock

It's only six weeks until Christmas (yikes!), which means that very soon we'll be filling our houses with the rich, fruity aromas of festive baking. Clear a good couple of hours one day this week, put on a bit of Michael Bublé and get your hands into a giant bowl of fruity cake mixture – heaven.

This recipe is one of our faves; it doesn't stray too far from the traditional Christmas cake, but the tropical flavours of rum, ginger and exotic fruit give an extra sparkle!

What secret ingredients do you add to your cake mix? We'd love to hear your tips.



Serves 25


  • 225 currants
  • 75g sultanas
  • 6 tbsp dark rum
  • 275g soft butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 175g light muscovado sugar
  • 100g molasses sugar
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • juice and zest of 1 large lemon
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 4 tbsp black treacle
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 100g ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
  • 100g Medjool dates, stoned and chopped
  • 1 x 250g pack ready-to-eat exotic dried fruit, chopped
  • 1 x 200g tub glacé cherries with natural colour, halved
  • 50g whole candied peel, chopped
  • 50g crystallised stem ginger, chopped
  • 1 x 100g pack macadamia halves, roughly chopped
  • 75g blanched almonds, chopped


  1. Put the currants and sultanas in a bowl, stir in the rum and soak overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 150°C, fan 130°C, gas 2. Line the base and sides of a 23cm loose-bottomed square cake tin with baking paper and grease with butter.
  3. Cream the butter and sugars together in a large mixing bowl using an electric hand whisk until pale and fluffy – about 5 minutes, or use a freestanding mixer.
  4. Gradually add the eggs, followed by the lemon juice and zest, the orange zest and the treacle.
  5. Sift in the flour and spices, then add the soaked fruit, the dried fruit, cherries, peel, ginger and nuts and a generous pinch of salt. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and spread it out evenly.
  7. Bake for 2 hours 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then remove it from the tin and wrap it in baking paper, followed by a layer of foil.
  9. Store the cake, undecorated, in an airtight tin or container until Christmas.


Don't forget to soak your fruit the night before you start baking!

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