Brandy Christmas cake recipe

(38 ratings)

A traditional fruit-packed Christmas cake with a hint of warmth from a generous glug of brandy. Make it ahead and decorate however you like...

Brandy Christmas cake
(Image credit: Future)
Preparation Time30 mins plus infusing overnight
Cooking Time2 hours 50 mins
Total Time3 hours 20 mins
Cost RangeMid
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories410 Kcal21%
Fat19 g27%
Saturated Fat9 g45%
Carbohydrates46 g18%

A classic 20cm Christmas cake that's large enough to feed 20 people, great for feeding a crowd. 

This basic brandy-soaked Christmas cake is simple to make but tastes brilliant. It’s popular as it’s not overly rich and dense, but makes a lovely fruit-filled cake. You'll be willing for Christmas to arrive so you can bake it again! Baking your Christmas cake a few weeks before you intend to eat it will improve the texture and flavour, however, if you don’t have the time this cake is lovely, if a little more crumbly, served fresh. 


  • 500g mixed dried fruit
  • 70g chopped dried apricots
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 185ml brandy, plus 6-8tsp extra for ‘feeding’
  • 300g unsalted butter
  • 250g dark muscovado sugar
  • 5 medium free range eggs
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2½tsp baking powder
  • 185g ground almonds
  • 2tsp mixed spice
  • 5 balls of stem ginger, finely diced

You will need:

  • 20cm round high sided cake tin, greased and lined with a double sheet of baking paper that extends 4cm above the rim of the tin




  1. Put the dried fruit in a bowl, stir in the brandy, then cover and leave to infuse overnight.
  2. The following day heat the oven to 140C Fan/Gas 3. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time mixing between each addition. Fold in the remaining ingredients and the soaked fruit along with any liquid.
  3. Spoon the mix into the prepared cake tin and level the top. Bake for 2 hrs 50 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  4. While the cake is warm, poke a few holes in the top and spoon over 2tbsp extra brandy to feed. After cooling for 30 mins in the tin, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in a cake tin.
  5. Once a week for 2-4 weeks feed the cake by spooning over 2tbsp brandy.

Top tips for making this brandy Christmas cake

This cake is ideal for decorating as it has quite a flat rise meaning it’s easy to neatly cover with marzipan and ice without a dome. The cake is a tall one, which will look impressive, but bear in mind that it is essential to line the tin so the paper protrudes over the rim. You will need approximately 700-800g of marzipan rolled to a thickness of 5mm to cover the cake and about 4 tbsp of jam to secure the marzipan in place. If using fondant icing you will need a similar amount. We save the offcuts and use these to make decorations. Alternatively, you could cover the marzipan with royal icing

You could also decorate this cake using anything from a stencil to any festive cake decorations. For a simple design make a rosemary wreath, gently bend a long piece of rosemary into a circle and tie it with string, making sure to hide the string under the leaves. Tie a festive bow on top, and dot it with cranberries. For a frosted appearance, lightly dust with icing sugar.

Here are some more tips for Christmas cake:

Which alcohol should I use to feed Christmas cake?

Brandy is traditionally used to feed a Christmas cake, however any spirit with a nice flavour will work, rum is another good option. Feeding the Christmas cake means drizzling over a couple of tbsp booze once a week for 2-4 weeks. Although not essential it will improve the flavour and texture of the cake. 

How can I decorate my Christmas cake?

Christmas cake is typically covered with marzipan and then icing. You can use a soft fondant icing will for a smooth effect, or a royal icing for creating peaks. For a cake decorations inspiration have a look at our Christmas cake ideas

How should I store Christmas cake and how long will it last?

We suggest storing a homemade Christmas cake in a tin in a cool place, it will keep well for a few months. However, cakes with a low sugar content may not keep as long. If you're concerned you could wrap the cake well and freeze it. Cover the cake with icing and marzipan just before Christmas as the cake may stain the icing. 

In this recipe, we use a stand mixer with various attachments. If you’re looking for a stand mixer our Food Editor Jessica Dady's KitchenAid Stand Mixer review explains more about the Artisan KitchenAid mixer and why it's the perfect machine for the job.

KitchenAid Mixer Design Series 4.7l Blossom Artisan - View at KitchenAid

KitchenAid Mixer Design Series 4.7l Blossom Artisan - View at KitchenAid

This stand mixer comes with four stainless steel mixing accessories to make baking and mixing much easier. There are 10 speeds and it comes with a five-year guarantee which is certainly handy to know. Featured in Pistachio colour with a copper bowl, it's the perfect mixer to take pride of place in your kitchen.

If you're looking for more Christmas baking you're in the right place! We have recipes for Mary Berry’s fruit cake, as well as a super easy Christmas cake recipe - not to mention a speedy way to bake your Christmas cake in an air fryer - yes, really. 

And if you fancy taking your baking skills to the next level, try our DIY gingerbread cuckoo clock, complete with a downloadable template. 

Rose Fooks
Deputy Food Editor

Rose Fooks is Deputy Food Editor at Future Publishing, creating recipes, reviewing products and writing food features for a range of lifestyle and home titles including GoodTo and Woman&Home. Before joining the team, Rose obtained a Diplome de Patisserie and Culinary Management at London’s Le Cordon Bleu. Going on to work in professional kitchens at The Delaunay and Zedel.