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Last minute Christmas cake recipe

It’s still possible to bake a delectable Christmas cake without months of maturing. Here’s how!

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A traditional fruitcake that adorns many-a-Christmas table at this time of year, Christmas cake is a time-honoured festive tradition. Christmas cake started life as plum porridge, before the recipe segued into one full of rum-soaked currants, sultanas and raisins. Various traditions and geographical variations sprang up throughout the ages, from sixpence pieces baked into the cakes, to Christmas cakes in Yorkshire eaten with Wensleydale cheese.

Christmas cakes around the world take many forms too. In Sri Lanka, Christmas cakes are sweetened with treacle and spiced with cinnamon and black pepper. Japanese Christmas cake is actually sponge cake topped with whipped cream, strawberries and chocolates. In the United States, some people give fruitcakes as gifts at Christmas-time, but they don’t actually call them Christmas cakes!

It is common for Christmas cakes to be made weeks or months in advance so that the fruits and spices baked into the cake have time to mature. During the maturing period, Christmas cakes are also fed with rum or brandy at regular intervals, creating a deeply moist and rich cake by Christmas Day.

But that’s not the only way to make a delicious Christmas cake. When there’s not much time to spare before Christmas, here’s a last-minute Christmas cake recipe to save the day!

The Runnymede’s last-minute Christmas cake recipe


900g sultanas
900g raisins
300g glacé cherries
2 lemons, zested
2 oranges, zested
190ml rum
190ml Grand Marnier
600g dark brown sugar
600g unsalted butter
2 vanilla pods
16 large eggs
800g plain flour
270g ground almonds
10g mixed spice
100g apricot jam
1.5kg marzipan


100g egg white (from approx. 2-3 large eggs)
300g icing sugar

2tbsp brandy
Festive decorations


  1. Mix the zest and fruit with the alcohol and soak overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 140 °C.
  3. Beat the eggs, ensuring they are at room temperature before moving on to the next step.
  4. Cream the butter and the sugar well, then gradually add the beaten eggs.
  5. Mix the remaining dry ingredients together, then add to the butter mixture and mix well. Finally add the fruit.
  6. Line a baking tin with greaseproof paper, then fill it with the fruit mixture. Cook in the oven for two hours.
  7. Use a knife to check the cake is cooked in the middle. If the knife comes out clean, the cake is cooked.
  8. Soak the top of the cake with brandy if you want a stronger tasting cake.
  9. When fruit cake has cooled, warm some apricot jam and brush it onto the top and sides of the fruit cake.
  10. Roll out the marzipan, ensuring it is at least 3cm thick, and cover the cake with it. Brush a bit of water on top of the marzipan so the icing will stick to it.
  11. Make the icing by mixing the egg white with the Icing sugar. Then pipe it onto the fruit cake.
  12. Decorate with festive decorations.

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