Christmas Cakes 101 ~ a Tutorial

Please do not assume you don’t like Christmas Cake (or fruitcake, if you insist on calling them this!)because you don’t like the store bought variety. They are NOT one in the same. Bought Christmas cakes contain that awful candied cherry and citron mixture that not only is not tasty but hard as rocks sometimes. This recipe I am about to give you is easy as can be.

This recipe makes four 6″ cakes.

  • 12 cups of dried fruit – I used apricots, dates, blueberries, cranberries, dark and golden raisins.
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup brandy or Cognac

Chop the large fruits into 1/4 inch pieces. Put all the fruit in a non-reactive container (plastic or glass) and pour the honey and brandy over it, stirring to coat well. Cover and let sit for a day or up to two weeks, mixing occasionally.


When ready to assemble the cakes, heat your oven to 275°F. Pour your fruit into a colander set over a bowl and let it drain while you prepare the rest of the recipe. Generously butter and flour your pans. As I said I used four 6″ rounds. But I think two 8’s would work as well. I also like to put a round of brown paper in the bottom of my pans over the butter/flour.


Cake ingrients:

  • Prepared fruit mixture
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1TBSP coarse salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups nuts – coarsely chopped (I used walnuts and pecans)
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup light brown, 1/2 cup white and 1/4 cup dark brown)
  • 7 large eggs

ccspices.jpgAnd for the glaze you will need apricot jam, brandy and water.

Stir together the dry ingredients and then add the nuts and stir again. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer with your paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Transfer to a large bowl and using the folding method, add the flour/nut mixture and then the fruit mixture. Stir to evenly distribute the fruits.


Divide the batter between the prepared pans. These pans will be full – note you didnt use any leavening so they are going to be dense (read: YUMMY) cakes.


Cut parchment to fit around the pans and above the rim at least 2 1/2 inches. Tie with baker’s twine.


Place on pans on cookie sheet and bake for 2 hours to 2 1/4 hours. Or until cake tester comes out clean. Transfer pans to wire rack to cool completely. Turn out cakes, then flip back over so top is up.


Heat 1/4 cup apricot jam, 1/4 cup brandy and 1/4 cup water until jam is liquid. Brush on tops of cooled cakes. Wrap in parchment and store in refrigerator for up to six months.


If you live in a cold climate, and you have a cool spot in your house, they can me kept in a tin or plastic container. they can be kept unrefrigerated. But since many times we have the air conditioning on in December as much as July, we keep ours refrigerated.

As always look over this recipe and read completely before starting. If you have any questions or something doesnt look right let me know. I read and reread my recipes but still miss somethings.

Have a great day. I have recipes I am working on so stay tuned!

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It looks sooooooo good, especially the cognac part.

Alas, I abhor fruit in my cake, or cookie, or brownie, or any other confection that I dine on.


Wow! That sounds like a great recipe and I may just have to give it a try. Any suggestion on a substitution for the brandy? My MIL made a great Christmas cake with apricot jam and I don’t know what other yumminess, but it was delicious. Yours sounds even better! Sounds like something my hubby would love, too! Yay Christmas cakes! 🙂



You’ve made it look so easy! Alright, I’m going to have to give this a try. I might even make one with my afterschool club kids at the daycare – We’re lucky, we have a full kitchen. There is definetly a whole science lesson in here with the dried fruit & everything. Thanks for sharing!!


I don’t know what you would substitute for the brandy. That’s kinda what gives the cake the “kick”. I will have to think on that one.

Oh chocolatechic…pour yourself a shot of cognac and skip the cake!

My Nate came by today and he loves this cake as much as I do, so I cut one of them for us to sample…OH MY it was SO good. The cut cake now belongs to him. I am sure he will finish it off fairly quickly and need another one before the holiday!


I love a good Christmas cake, my Mom was from England and she got me hooked on the stuff! Your recipe is worth trying, sounds yummy!


My that “Christmas Cake” looks wonderful, I like the idea of the apricot brandy mixture. Something I will have to try. And your finished product is beautiful in a simple elegant way. I like the what you said about same recipe different outcome, as a Christmas Cake 🙂

That looks scrumptious. I’ll be trying this come Christmas – BTW I love your blog title!!

I found you through Tina at Cherry Hill Cottage. Love this recipe and will definitely try it. I’m used to the yucky citron version!

Susan, I am so excited to find your blog! We were on the same Southern CM Email Loop years ago and I remember buying a lot of your delightful soap and enjoying it so much. I am looking forward to reading all your posts!

Oh, I saw the picture of you posted over at Cherry Hill Cottage……you are adorable! :o)

My mother LOVES these fruit cakes – excuse me – Christmas cakes. She’s Canadian and has always had these at holiday time. Her mom used to make them every year-she would wait for the mail delivery starting December 1st. Now she has to rely on a friend to send her one since Nana is gone. I’m going to make this for her. Sounds simple and she would be so impressed…would never expect one of her own to make this for her. Thanks for sharing!

You are so right. Homemade vs. store bought are two completely different things. My best friend, since childhood, has always made a recipe very similar to yours and I love it!!

. . . Now the store bought fruit cake? They make perfectly wonderful door stops, don’tchathink?



I want to do this Susan! I want it to look just like yours, right down to that cute red and white string! I have a “few” ((stupid)) questions…do you buy the dried fruits like the blueberries and cranberries at the grocery store? I don’t think I’ve ever seen them! Maybe I have..I have the other fruits. And where do I buy that cute red and white string? Beautiful cakes!

Oh Tina…I got my fruit at the local grocery and Target grocery- I wish I could tell you they were all organic and such but they are not. Those are not available to me in this tiny little town. And Target is in Shreveport 75 miles away. So I stock up when I am there. The string I have a gagillion foot roll. It is bakers twine. I LOVE it too. Just let me know if you want some of it. Email me and we can get it on its way to you. I will be offering it in my Farmhouse Kitchen “store” when it is back up and running but I can cut you some now for sure!

I am one of those people that even likes “store-bought” fruit cakes, so I’m sure I will love your recipe.

I have cognac already.

I am going to try this for sure !! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

I also wondered about the brandy part and so I “googled”it. Here is what I found, now if it works or not, I don’t know.

“1/4 C or more port, sweet sherry, rum, brandy or fruit-flavored liquor = equal measure of unsweetened orange juice or apple juice + 1 ts
of corresponding flavored extract or vanilla extract”

We will see, I guess. Thanks again for this.

Kim Pebley

Oh my.. I found you from Cherry Hill Cottage.. I LOVE your blog… My grandma used to make “fruit cake” every year. god love her. Well it was always a little dry by the time christmas arrived. I can’t wait to try your recipe. I love the simple packaging with the red and white twine !!!!!!! I will have to look for some. I do have a question.. if I were to make them in little loaf pans what would you suggest for the cooking time? Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas…. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by Kim. I don’t know what size loaf pans you are considering. I would think it would take just as long though due to the extra depth of the loaf pan. I would check at an hour and every 15 minutes there after. There is probably a formula for changing pan sizes but I have no idea what that is! Good luck!

Kim Pebley

Thank you.. I will be making these and let you know how it works out!

Those cakes look great.

For those of us who are not American, could you explain what a stick of butter is? How many grams/ounces?

A stick of butter is 4 ounces. Happy you stopped by!

I love fruitcake in any way shape or form, and yours look delicious! Thanks so much for sharing!


Your recipe is too tempting! The fruit is “marinating” even as I type. May I ask the reason for the parchment collar? Basically, I’m lazy and if I can skip a step, I will. However, I want the cakes to come out beautiful and tasty and I think the parchment may have some important role to play. Thank you.

I think the parchment is to keep the edges and top from getting too brown. I couldnt bake without it!!!


Thank you for the reply. I’m going to bake right now. I’ll be sure to use the parchment. I might have to try a cake tonight! Thanks again.



I finally found you again! Anyhoo, the Christmas cakes were HUGELY successful and are now a family favorite! We are looking forward to them as part of our Christmas celebration each year. Thank you for sharing this delicious and truly easy recipe. God bless. Mairzie

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