Classic | Christmas Cake

By Cynthia Nelson
December 12, 2010

Photography By Cynthia Nelson



For Rum-Cured Mixed Fruit

1 pound raisins

1½ pounds pitted prunes

½ pound currants

¼ pound preserved cherries

¼ pound mixed peel (if you don’t find any, replace with more raisins or prunes)

½ cup brown sugar

1 x 750 ml good dark rum, plus more if needed

1 cup mixture of port and cherry brandy (use rum if you don’t have)

For cake

1 cup (8oz) unsalted butter, room

Temperature (plus extra for greasing the baking pan)

1 cup brown sugar

6 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla essence or extract

4 cups rum-cured mixed fruit (see below for method)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the baking pan

Yield: 1 (10 x 2 ¼ inch) cake


1 Electrical blender or food processor

2 Large bowls

1 Whisk or hand mixer

1 Wooden spoon

1 (10-inch) round cake pan

1 Wire cooling rack


For Rum-Cured Mixed Fruit

Make this in batches

1. Mix together all the fruits in a large bowl

2. Add 2 cups of rum-port-brandy mixture along with some of the mixed fruits and ¼ cup sugar and blend until it’s like a paste. Add a little more rum if it gets too thick and not blending easily and be sure to scrape down the sides of the blender-jug or food processor

3. Repeat this process until all the fruits are blended

4. Store in an airtight glass jar with a drizzle of rum to cover the surface; no need to refrigerate, this can stay on the countertop until ready to use

5. The fruits can stay this way for years, as long as no unclean utensils are used to dip into it

For Cake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with the baking rack in the middle of the oven

2. Grease the cake pan, first by rubbing butter all around and then dusting with flour all around. Tap the pan and turn it over to remove any excess flour

3. Line the bottom of the pan, only, with a cut-out round piece of greased parchment paper; set aside

4. Cream butter and sugar until it reaches a pale cream colour; if you are using a hand mixer, 5 – 6 minutes; set aside

5. Sift or mix together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside

6. Whisk eggs until frothy in a separate bowl

7. Add essence/extract to eggs and continue whisking for a few seconds

8. Add whisked eggs to creamed butter and sugar and stir gently, incorporating (the mixture will look curdled, that’s okay)

9. Add the rum-cured mixed fruit and mix thoroughly until fully incorporated

10. Add the flour-baking powder-cinnamon mixture and mix thoroughly to incorporate, but do not over mix or beat the batter

11. Pour batter into baking pan

12. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until inserted skewer comes out clean

13. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack in pan for 10 – 15 minutes

14. Carefully, gently and quickly invert pan and remove cake

15. Cool completely on a wire rack

16. Cut and serve with a glass of ginger beer, sorrel drink, tea or coffee or just as is


This cake can be stored on your counter top wrapped in foil and in an air-tight canister for a long time or store in the fridge.

The longer the cake stays, the more intense the flavour develops as the rum continues to cure the cake.


To remove residue of flour from cake after baking, when the cake is cooled completely, brush with pastry brush.

For more great recipes, and insight, visit and purchase Cynthia’s cookbook, Tastes Like Home.

To view more food stories see the Winter 2010 issue of City Style and Living Magazine here.