Put your air fryer to good use this Christmas and bake your Christmas cake in it - it’s much quicker than the oven and cooks just as well too.
Christmas is coming and for you avid bakers out there, it’s time to start thinking about making that all-important Christmas cake (if you haven’t already!). Preparing your Christmas cake a few months ahead is a great way to ensure this festive favourite has plenty of flavour come the big day, and feeding a Christmas cake with sherry, brandy, tea, or juice, will guarantee your cake is super moist and flavoursome ready to be enjoyed during the holidays - which is why I’ve baked mine in October.
Traditionally over the years, like most, I have baked my Christmas cake in a conventional electric or fan oven keeping it simple, however, now the air fryer has come into my life I have thrown caution to the wind and thought why not bake it in one of our best air fryers for families? The question is, can you bake Christmas cake in an air fryer? And the answer simply is yes, you can. And it took half the time of the original recipe, cooked just as well, and tasted just as good. For those of you new to the air fryer world, an air fryer is essentially a mini oven that circulates air around the food to cook it quickly and efficiently. It’s said to be much speedier than a conventional oven and costs less to run too.
First, you need to make your Christmas cake mixture and decide on a recipe to suit. Now we have a variety of Christmas cake recipes on Goodto including Mary Berry’s classic Christmas cake recipe, and Mary Berry’s fruit cake, however, for my Christmas cake I made our easy Christmas cake recipe - a favourite that I’ve made a few years in the running and would highly recommend for those who are looking for a quick prep recipe with only a few ingredients.
How to bake Christmas cake in an air fryer
Before you get started you will need an air fryer that is big enough to hold an 18cm/7" round cake tin and the tin itself.
The cake tin needs to be suitable for air fryer use and must fit comfortably into your machine with a gap around the edges for airflow. Make sure you line the cake tin with baking parchment or grease the tin (depending on whether it's non-stick or not) before adding the cake mixture.
Follow my easy step-by-step instructions below.
You will need:
- 3 large eggs
- 300g (10oz) plain flour
- 250g (8oz) butter, softened
- 250g (8oz) light muscovado sugar
- 1 tbsp ground mixed spice
- Pinch of salt
- 410g jar of mincemeat
- 500g (1lb) dried mixed fruit
- 4 tbsp brandy
- 18cm/7" round cake tin lined with baking parchment
- And an air fryer of course!
In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients; eggs, plain flour, butter, light muscovado sugar, ground mixed spice, salt, mincemeat, and dried mixed fruit, and mix until combined. Leave the brandy out.
Once the cake mixture is smooth and thoroughly mixed, transfer it to your cake tin and press the mixture into the tin, smoothing the top so it's level. Put the cake in the air fryer drawer, and bake for 30 minutes at 160°C.
After 30 minutes, carefully add some tin foil to the top of your cake. This will stop it from browning any further on top and will help the cake to cook evenly inside too.
Ensure the tin foil is pinched around the edges so it's 'attached' to your cake tin otherwise the fan will move the tinfoil around the machine uncovering the cake. Bake for another 1 hour and 20 minutes (1 hour and 50 minutes total).
After 1 hour and 20 minutes, poke the centre of the cake with a skewer to see if it's cooked all the way through. If the skewer comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, pop back into the air fryer and cook for another 10 minutes checking again, and repeat. You shouldn't need to cook your cake any longer than 2 hours.
Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin before carefully removing. Once fully cooled, wrap in a layer of baking parchment or greaseproof paper and a layer of tin foil and store in a cake tin or air-tight container.
'Feed' fortnightly with brandy, sherry, cooled tea, orange juice, or liquid of your choice in the run-up to Christmas to ensure your cake is moist and full of flavour come Christmas time.
Top tips for baking a Christmas cake in an air fryer
The smaller the cake, the more success you’ll have in cooking it as they tend to cook quicker and more evenly than large cakes. Plus if you have a small air fryer, you won’t be able to cook a large cake in it anyway. Always make sure you leave plenty of space around the cake tin and the air fryer basket for airflow.
Low and slow
You ideally want to cook the cake from the inside out so start on low heat for a longer period of time. This should stop browning on the top of the cake, however, if this does occur, you can cover the cake loosely with a sheet of tin foil. This will stop it from burning but allow it to continue to cook.
Go for dry cakes over wet
A pound cake would be a much more successful cake to bake in an air fryer than a banana cake for example, as banana cakes are overly moist and have a lot of liquid in them from the fresh fruit, etc. A pound cake, or classic Victoria sponge, or simple chocolate cake may bode well as they have a good ratio of dried ingredients to wet e.g. flour and caster sugar vs. butter and egg. The wetter the cake mixture, the longer it’ll take a cook.
Select the right cake tin
Choosing the right cake tin is the first step in making a Christmas cake in an air fryer - in fact, any cake in an air fryer. You don’t want to jump ahead and go for a large cake tin when firstly it doesn’t fit in the machine or it does, but it's going to take forever to cook.
Keep in mind that if you have a square air fryer drawer, it may be better to use a square tin for your cake, or a round air fryer and you can probably use a classic round tin, rectangular and you can opt for a rectangular tray bake-style pan.
Make sure the cake tin fits and that air can circulate around it in the machine. I've used an 18cm/7" round cake tin for this recipe, however, you may need to go smaller for different machines.
Use preset functions
If your machine has a preset function for baking you can use it when you first start out baking in your air fryer. The preset function is often set to the optimum temperature. If unsure, start with baking something smaller to test out your machine - a batch of cupcakes for example. That way you can ensure that the preset function is the right choice for you. You can also manually override most air fryer preset functions too so you could set the time and temperature according to that specific recipe.
Can an air fryer be used for baking cakes?
Yes, an air fryer can be used to bake cakes - and successfully for that matter too. However, you do need to make sure that you use your machine correctly otherwise you can end up with a brown outside and an underbaked inside.
Use the instruction manual, especially if it tells you the best preset or manual setting for cakes, and refer to each individual recipe too, and stick with basic recipes when you’re first starting out so you can get a feel for your air fryer.
How long does it take to bake a cake in an air fryer on average?
On average it takes around 30-40 minutes to bake a cake in an air fryer however this will depend on the size of the cake, the size of the air fryer, and if you’re using preset functions or manually setting the machine. It’s best to follow the instructions on the individual recipe and consult the air fryer manual or guide in regards to timings. When converting a recipe from oven cooking to air fryer cooking, the general rule is to reduce the temperature by 20-30ºC and cook for 20% less time.
Can you put a cake pan in an air fryer?
Yes, you can put a cake pan in an air fryer as long as it fits and has enough room around the edges and on the top for the airflow. Ovenproof dishes and oven-safe silicone moulds are good choices when it comes to baking a cake, however, it is best to consult the user manual or guide for the air fryer you’re using before putting it in the machine. It’s best to try out your cake pan before you start making the cake in case it doesn’t fit your air fryer model.
How long before Christmas should I make my Christmas cake?
The ideal time to make a Christmas cake is around two to three months before Christmas Day. This gives the cake plenty of time to mature in flavour, especially if you plan to feed it with sherry or brandy for extra. It will ensure that the cake stays super moist and has plenty of depth in flavour come serving time.
However, don’t despair if you’ve only got around to rustling up your Christmas cake a week or so before the big day. The cake may not have rich flavours or be heavy on the booze but it will still be a wonderful fruit cake you can share with friends and family.
How do you feed a Christmas cake and how often?
You feed a Christmas cake with 1-2 tablespoons of liquid of your choice; be it brandy, sherry, or fruit juice, every two weeks in the run-up to Christmas.
To feed the cake, simply uncover the top of the cake (leave the sides wrapped to stop it from drying out) and poke the cake surface several times with a skewer. Spoon over the liquid making sure the whole cake is evenly covered.
If you like your Christmas cake to be extra boozy, you could go for 3-4 tablespoons at each feeding instead but don't overdo it otherwise your cake will be super soggy come serving time.
Cover the cake back over and set a reminder on your phone or write on your calendar to feed again in two weeks' time.
Best air fryers - my top picks
Breville Halo VDF126 5.5L Air Fryer - View at Amazon
Breville Halo VDF126 5.5L is a large air fryer and just perfect for baking my Christmas cake this year. It has a range of preset functions to cook chicken, chips, vegetables, etc., and can easily be used on the manual setting adjusting to your own time and temperature using the simple digital display. When cooking is complete, this air fryer beats loudly which is ideal if you live in a noisy household like me. It's a powerful machine that heats quickly and doesn't need to be preheated.
- Read more about this air fryer in my Breville Halo VDF126 5.5L Air Fryer review
Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer 3L - View at Amazon
A good-sized, round basket makes this air fryer the perfect candidate for baking small cakes (15cm round cake tin) It has a variety of preset functions and is quick and easy to use with a digital touchscreen, digital clock countdown, and loud beep when the machine is finished cooking. It’s great for smaller kitchens that don’t have much kitchen space to work with as the cylinder shape makes it good for tucking into corners, etc. This model also includes a very thorough cooking guide which came in handy when setting up and using the machine correctly. Ideal for beginners.
- Read more about this air fryer in my Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer 3L review