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Jamie Oliver’s Christmas cake

When I saw this traditional English Christmas cake in the Sep/Oct Jamie Magazine issue, I knew immediately that I would have definitely baked it for Christmas (yeah, I know, I love Christmas and I start thinking about it as soon as I put away my summer T-shirts and light dresses, I can’t help it).

Christmas cake

As you already know how much I love the British side of life, you will easily understand how I desperately fell for this delicious fruit cake: rich, sumptuous, full of dried fruit and, above all, very English! It’s traditional to make this a few weeks before Christmas, so that you can feed it by pouring over booze of your choice, to further enrich the flavor of this extraordinary fruit cake.

The brandy aroma, combined with dried fruit and nuts, reminds me of season greetings, snowy Christmas carols, twinkling lights, rustling paper and satin ribbons… I can’t wait to finally bite into a thick slice of fruity Christmas cake, as until now I could only nibble something, while gradually adding some brandy to my creature!

Christmas cake

Traditional Christmas Cake – from Jamie Magazine Sep/Oct 10

Jamie Oliver's Christmas cake

Jamie Oliver Magazine
4.06 from 106 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Course Dessert
Cuisine English
Servings 16


  • 600 g raisins
  • 200 g currants
  • 100 g dried sour or glacé cherries
  • 250 g mixed dried fruits, try prunes, apricot, apples, pears finely chopped
  • 400 ml booze, plus extra to 'feed' the cake (brandy, sherry, Tia Maria, rum... all work well)
  • 300 g butter, at room temperature
  • 200 g dark brown sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp treacle, I used golden syrup
  • 300 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of ground cloves
  • 150 g ground almonds
  • 150 g walnuts, chopped
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The night before.

  • Place the dried fruit in a saucepan with the booze and bring to a simmer. Pour into a bowl, cool, cover and leave to soften.

The following day

  • Preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2 and line the base and sides of a 23cm round tin or a 20cm square tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper. You’ll need the side lining to be a good 8cm higher than the tin.
  • If you’d like your cake to be particularly moist, blitz half the soaked fruit in a food processor to make a paste, and stir back into the rest of the fruit. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Grate in the zest of your lemon and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the treacle. Sift the flour and combine with the spices and ground almonds. Mix into the butter mixture, alternating with the soaked fruit. Finally, fold in the walnuts. Spoon the mixture into the lined tin and bake in the oven for about 3 hours. Check after 2½ hours and then every 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush with a little more booze. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then remove, placing it directly onto a large sheet of tin foil. Wrap it up twice to retain the heat for as long as possible. After a few hours, remove the foil and wrap the cake up again in a double sheet of greaseproof paper and a double sheet of tin foil, making sure you can access the cake from the top. Store in an airtight container for 2–12 weeks. During this time, feed the cake the alcohol of your choice by gently pouring it over the top and rewrapping.


  • I decided to frost this traditional cake with a soft topping made by whipping together mascarpone cheese and cream with 2 tbsps of icing sugar. Spread evenly the frosting over the cake and decorate with some glacé cherries or Christmas decorations.
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Tasting test. It isn’t a traditional Italian cake and you won’t find it within our family Christmas recipes… Well, until this year, I dare say. I’m sure that next year this will become an unmissable Christmas sweet treat, a new tradition to built year after year, sweet fruity crumble after sweet fruity crumble. It is a rich, full-bodied, fruity and flavorful cake, in which all the ingredients are perfectly balanced. It slightly resembles our typical panforte (a kind of gingerbread), but is less sweet, I do prefer the English version.

Christmas cake

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This Post Has 90 Comments

    1. Love the cake but the ‘icing’ is a let down. Hey, what happened to the traditional home made ground almond marzipan coating and the topping of snowy white royal icing?

  1. The Jamie Oliver magazine is wonderful isn’t it, it’s kind of a British answer to Martha Stewart. I must confess though I tend not to buy it during the year then I buy the compilation recipe edition at Christmas!!

  2. I’m always so wary of recipes from food magazines – thinking that they don’t work but you know what, I might even start subscribing to Jamie Oliver’s magazine. I enjoy browsing through delicious mag but this looks so good I’m tempted to give it a go too! 🙂 Lovely blog Juls, sorry I haven’t visited in a long while. Looking forward to reading the eng version of the mag (yours that is) x

  3. Christmas cake is such a good tradition! Though usually by the time we get to Christmas day we are all so full that it’s the last thing we want to eat as it’s so rich… that Jamie recipe looks good. My grandmother has been feeding hers since early November, it should be good 🙂

  4. You actually make it appear so easy along with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I believe I would never understand. It seems too complex and very large for me. I am taking a look forward in your subsequent put up, I will attempt to get the cling of it!

  5. Thank you for another excellent article. Where else could anybody get that kind of info in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such information.

  6. I made my very first Christmas cake last year with this recipe, it went down so well I’ve already been asked to make it again this Christmas. I don’t need asking twice it’s on my to-do list for every festive season.

  7. Have just made this great fruit cake. I have gone against my usual “wedding cake fruit cake” to make Jamie’s Xmas cake it looks great. Will let you know how it tastes in a month filled with a sprinkling of grog! Happy Xmas from Australia.

  8. Hi there!
    I made the Jamie Oliver Traditional Christmas cake Nov 2014. I usually always uses Delia Smith recipe, oh how I wish I’d stuck to it!!!
    The Jamie Xmas cake is just TOO moist!! Don’t get me wrong I like a moist cake but this one is just sooooo moist that it doesn’t really taste like a cake!!
    I whizzed up half the fruit as suggested, I shouldn’t have done!
    The marzipan didn’t set and is all gooey!
    It was very expensive to make and a bit of a disaster really!!
    I promise I can cook I’m actually a very good cook so makes me even more unhappy as I’m used to my cooking working out well and being very nice.
    Do you think the prob was in the whizzing up of half the fruit?? I cooked it at 150c for just over 2 and a 1/2 hours, the skewer came out clean.
    What went wrong!!???
    Thanks for reading would welcome any comments :0)

    1. Hello Imogen, I am so sorry to hear ti was a disaster. I actually baked this three times, and I see other people were happy with the result, so I don’t know which could have been the problem.
      If the skewer came out clean probably the cake was perfectly executed, and it was something due to the marzipan?

  9. 5 stars
    I make this cake every year it is delicious, I started making 2 cakes one for my daughter and one for myself. Each year I have more and more orders for this cake. Thank you Jamie for the recipe 6 to make this year xx

    1. You just reminded me of this cake, Susie, I might start making it soon for Christmas!

  10. 5 stars
    I made this the year before last and it was amazing! I’m showing my 6 year old how to do it this year. Let the fun begin.

    1. How fun!! Enjoy the day baking with your 6 year old, it would be so fun to be in the kitchen with you two! Play the carrolls and enjoy this special day!

  11. Have made this cake again this year. Really easy and tastes delicious!! A perfect cake for a perfect season. I never go wrong with a JO recipe 🙂

  12. 5 stars
    My son and I used this recipie last year to make our first ever Christmas cake and it was a real success. We went for a traditional marzipan and icing covering and split the mixture into 2 smaller tins to have 2 cakes. We’re going to get our ingredients tomorrow and make a start on this year’s cakes, 1 excited 6 year old ready to bake!

    1. Ciao Laura, your message warmed my heart. I can now Imagine you and your son making the cake, and making memories that will last for a lifetime. Please hug your son from me, you two make me so proud!

  13. 5 stars
    I have just finished making this cake, the smell in the kitchen was absolutely lush, cnt wait for christmas so i can decorate it and see what it tastes like
    Big hugs and kisses from Gibraltar
    Terry x

    1. Ciao Terry, you just remembered me I have to feed mine! 🙂
      So happy the smell is promising, a big hug from Tuscany down to Gibraltar!

  14. Hey, your photos are amazing! They have inspired me to bake this cake for Christmas this year. Can I please ask what size eggs you should use for this receipt? Thanks, Emma

  15. Hey, your photos are amazing! They have inspired me to bake this cake for Christmas this year. Can I please ask what size eggs you should use for this receipt? Also, if I wanted to make either one or two batches and split into smaller tins, what size would you suggest? Thanks, Emma

    1. Hello Emma, thank you so much! I used regular sized eggs (if I weigh my eggs with the shell they weigh 80 g).
      If you want to split into smaller tins, I’d say use 15 to 18 cm cake tins. Obviously the cooking time will be shorter, so keep an eye on the cake and check it after 2 hours. Let me know how they turn out!

      1. Ciao Giulia, thank you for the info on eggs and advice re: cooking time for a small cake. I’m going to make them tomorrow. I’m a bit worried they won’t have enough time to mature before icing. Does it matter if you put extra fruit in the cake or does it ruin the balance of ingredients? I have had a really busy week and have managed to soak the right amount of fruit in terms of weight but forgot to mix up the variety i.e. I forgot my prunes ? If I add them, will there be too much fruit for my modest 7” cake? I found a recipe by Nigella which is almost the same as this and gives the quantities for a 7” cake as well as larger so was going between the two and completely forgot…they won’t have soaked overnight either but they are pretty juicy…

        1. Hi Emma, don’t worry! they’ll have the time to soak in the making and in the cooking step, plus you’re going to feed the cake for a few weeks! Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

          1. Thanks Giulia. I have just made one but I think I’ve undercooked it. It’s still warm and I thought the cake tester was coming out clean but found it hard to tell because I thought the fruit might be sticking to the knife. Anyway, based on the 7″ cooking time for the Nigella recipe which said between 1 hr 45 – 2 hr 15, I cooked for the minimum time (worrying it would be overcooked because out oven is intense) and now, after a couple of hours I am doubting it’s cooked. I tried the ‘stick a fine bladed knife in it test for done-ness’ and it’s failing. I guess it’s unlikely to be cooked in some fruit cakes require 4-5 hours. I like to bake but haven’t made a fruit cake since Home Ec in my teens!

  16. 4 stars
    Cooked this cake last year was a big hit, yummy.
    Have been asked to make a few more this year.eazy peazy, ?

  17. This cake sounds like just what I’ve been looking for. I just need to know is it still yummy if it only has a week wrapped up before eating?

    Also, has anyone done this as mini cakes please?

    Many thanks,

    1. Ciao Angela, a week probably is not enough, but if you make it now, it might be pretty good for Christmas!
      As for the smaller cakes – which might be a good idea since you are making them now – as I was saying to Emma, use 15 to 18 cm cake tins. Obviously the cooking time will be shorter, so keep an eye on the cake and check it after 2 hours. Let me know how they turn out!

  18. the icing appears toasted… how did you achieve this?

    p.s looks like a great recipe 🙂

    1. thank you Sam! that is an Italian meringue topping burnt here and there with a pastry torch!

  19. Does this have no rising agent at all? No baking powder, or bicarbonate? Is that why it bakes for a long time? I’ve noticed that both this recipe and Mary Berry’s recipe calls for just plain flour. I want to try making this but I’m worried about the lack of rising agent. Thanks!

    1. Hi Roberto, you do not need baking powder nor bicarbonate in this cake, as the texture is dense and moist. It bakes for long time as it is very very moist, too!

  20. Hi Giulia!
    I just love your blog… I love all the ruminations and observations and markings of the seasons. You are my inspiration as a fairly new blogger with a cooking school as well!
    I know this is an old post, but I have a question about this recipe. I am determined to try it since in America “Fruit Cake” as we call this has a terrible reputation and I want to disprove that!
    How much “booze” and how often do you feed the creature?! Don’t want to overtreat it… nor, deprive it! Thank you so much for all your inspiration!

    1. Hi Kiki! thank you so so much for tour words! I usually pour 2-3 tablespoons when I remember, like once a week! Hope you will bake it, as it is a revelation!!

  21. Hello, one question please. Would the cake be better using 300g margarine instead of butter? Many thanks, Sandra

    1. Hello Sandra, I usually prefer butter to margarine, I’m not a big fan of margarine!

  22. 5 stars
    Hi can you tell me if I can use lactose free spread instead of butter and gluten free flour?
    I have two visitor’s over Christmas with allergies. Also can I use a silicone tin and if so do I still need to line it?

    1. It would probably work, as the cake is kept together by the honey and fruit mainly. As for the silicone tine, though, I fear it would not work, but just because I have never tried!

      1. 5 stars
        Just to say the silicone tin did work… Came out clean and all together…. I greased it a little beforehand. The scewer came out clean so fingers crossed for the Gluten
        and lactose free cake version ive made…… Looking good so far.

  23. Would I bake it at 130 degrees in my fan assisted oven please? Many thanks, Sandra

  24. Made the cake on Sunday. Used 5 eggs as each weighed roughly 60 grams. Enjoyed making it and I am not a Good/natural baker! Seems a little light in colour, perhaps all the ground almonds. Tasted lovely in its raw state. I will feed it brandy aplenty. I had bought a Waitrose Xmas cake mix but it seemed rather light on ingredients this year so thought I’d bake my own. The Jules recipe “floated my boat”. Not sure if it a Jamie Oliver or not. Many thanks for sharing this recipe and congratulations on winning your Savoir (sorry not spelt correctly) Blog award. Agree about Tuscany and Tourism. Sienna I would single out as Tourism on steroids, awful place; correction, awful people. I assume Mafia run (sorry). Tourist, the scourge of the world!

  25. 4 stars
    Sorry, meant to say, I cooked it at 130 degrees ( fan assisted) for 3 hours and skewer came out clean.

  26. Have just soak my fruit to make my cakes tomorrow. Sounds a great cake so I am making 2. Plenty for all the family.

  27. 5 stars
    I made the rich fruit cake yesterday. After 21/2 hrs the knife came out clean. So wrapped it as said. Today I took it out of tinfoil, as I lifted it ,it broke in the middle. Not a prob. But it’s still very moist to the point it doesn’t cut into clean slices, just goes into it lumps rather than a slice. Can anyone please advise.

    1. It is supposed to rest for a few months, while being fed, so probably this is the reason why it is difficult to slice it.

  28. Help! I put the cake in the oven an hour ago and have just discovered the bag of ground almonds on the worktop ….. is the cake going to be ruined without them?

    1. Hi Rachel, I think you won’t notice the difference, don’t worry, the cake will be ok!

  29. This is my first time baking a Christmas Cake and I am really excited to try this. Can I split the recipe in two 4.5×8.5 inches loaf tins? Would it work? So is it necessary to feed the cake or can we enjoy it two days after baking? Looking forward!

    1. I have never tried, but this is a forgiving cake, so just give it a go. You can eat it just after baking, but it gains in flavor if you feed it.

  30. 5 stars
    hav’nt made a xmas cake for about 30 years
    made this for my daughters 50th in October and it went down a storm
    inundated with requests to make another for xmas 2020 and it was so easy and moist that I will be delighted to make another Thanx Jules and Jamie xx

    1. Dear Carole, it is so heartwarming to read your message! I have just shared the recipe, but I’m so in love with it that it makes me proud when I read people love it.
      And a huge belated happy birthday to your daughter!

  31. 5 stars
    Tried this recipe for the first time a few years ago and its been a winner ever since with ua and friends and family

  32. Hi Giulia
    I made this cake tonight, and presently have it wrapped in tinfoil. So far it seems to have turned out fine, although I only put half the sugar. Is it ok to have it for Christmas next week, or is it necessary to let it sit longer so it tastes better. I had planned to make it earlier but didn’t get the chance 7ntil now, smell delicious!! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Maureen,
      you can have it also for Christmas, but try to save some for later, you’ll see how the flavour will develop!
      Merry Christmas!

  33. 5 stars
    I’ve been making this cake every year since it was first published in Jamie Oliver magazine. My hard copy is long gone so you blog is now my main point of reference. Thanks for keeping the recipe alive. This year’s version has just gone in the oven 🙂

    1. thank you so much Emma! I’m collecting the ingredients right now to bake my cake soon! thank you so much!

  34. 5 stars
    I have made this cake every year and it’s the best.
    Everyone likes it who tries a slice or 2 hehehe. I have actually got this recipe written down in my book however I misplaced my book. So I was panicking that I wont be able to make is this year. Then i looked online and here it is 😁. Baking day friday and saturday I cant wait to make a start. Thankyou for this awesome recipe

    1. Thank you so much Suzanne, this is one of my favourite cakes and traditions, something I keep coming back year after year!

  35. 4 stars
    The first time I made this, I was short of dried fruit so added in the leftover fruit mince I had made for fig and walnut mince pies. This also has a ripe banana mashed in. It made the cake SO moist and I have done the same thing ever since. You cannot taste the banana but it makes the cake so much less crumbly!!! I glaze it with jam, brandy and dried fruit. AMAZING!!!

  36. This recipe is just made me a baker. This is the first time ever my girlfriend and I baked anything at all. We wanted a classic Xmas, tree and all. The recipe was so easy. We followed it to a T and read all the comments for tips and lessons learned. And it turned out beautifully. Thank you Jul and everyone who has shared their experience.

    1. thank you so much Gaz, this is just the beginning of your love affair with baking, I am sure!

  37. Really Fantastic, the taste is incredible, through my years cooking I have made lots of fruit cakes and this is the BEST of all.

  38. 5 stars
    I’ve been making this cake recipe for years. It’s an absolute favourite of everyone’s.
    Use the traditional home made marzipan and royal icing topping though. (You’ll need to start this a couple of weeks before you want to showcase the cake, to give it time to dry properly). It’s delicious, beautiful, and will enable you to keep the cake significantly longer, without spoiling.

    1. Sooner or later I’ll work also on the proper icing! SO happy this recipe is loved by so many people!

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