Simmer & Stir Christmas Cake

Anne Neary


  • 175g/6oz butter, chopped
  • 220g/8oz muscovado sugar
  • 750g/1lb10oz luxury mixed dried fruit (one that includes mixed peel and glace cherries)
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 100ml/3½floz cherry brandy or brandy, plus 4 tbsp more
  • 85g/3oz whole blanched (skinless) almonds
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 200g/8oz plain flour
  • ½tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼tsp ground allspice


Takes 1-1½ hours, plus 1¾-2 hours in the oven (2½ hours, gas oven)

Makes a 20cm round cake


Preheat the oven to 150C/130C fan-oven/Gas mark 2 and line the cake tin. 

Put the butter, sugar, fruit, zests, juice and 100ml/3½floz brandy in a large pan.

Bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the butter has melted.  Reduce the heat and bubble for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

Toast the nuts in a dry frying pan, tossing them until evenly browned, or in the oven for 8-10 minutes – keep an eye on them as they burn easily.  When they are cool, chop roughly.

Stir the eggs, nuts and ground almonds into the fruit mixture and mix well.  Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the pan.  Stir in gently, until there are no traces of flour left.

Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth it down evenly – you will find this is easiest with the back of a metal spoon which has been dipped into boiling water.

Bake for 45 minutes, then turn down the heat to 140C/120C fan-oven/Gas mark1 and cook for a further 1-1¼ hours (about a further 1¾ hours if you have a gas oven) until the cake is dark golden in appearance and firm to the touch.

Cover the top of the cake with foil if it starts to darken too much.  To check the cake is done, insert a fine skewer into the centre – if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

Make holes all over the warm cake with a fine skewer and spoon the extra 4 tbsp brandy over the holes until it has all soaked in.  Leave the cake to cool in the tin.  When it’s cool, remove it from the tin, peel off the lining paper, then wrap first in the baking parchment and then in foil.  The cake will keep in a cupboard for up to three months or you can freeze it for six months.