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How to make a Christmas cake

Follow our handy step-by-step guide and create your own beautifully iced festive cake to sit on your Christmas table

Recipe: Step 1 – make the cake

Ready in 5 hours, plus overnight soaking and feeding
Serves 20


750g mixed sultanas and currants
200g ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
100g glacé cherries, rinsed and chopped
100g dried cranberries
2 oranges, both zested, 1 juiced
150ml brandy, sweet sherry or Marsala (plus extra for feeding)
325g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
225g light muscovado sugar
100g golden caster sugar
5 medium eggs
300g plain flour
75g ground almonds
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
100g almonds, finely chopped
1 tbsp golden syrup


  1. In a medium-sized, non-metallic bowl, mix together the dried fruit, orange zest and juice and brandy. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a cool, dark place to soak overnight.
  2. Use a deep, 23cm cake tin. Cut two circles of baking parchment to fit the base of the tin. Measure the circumference of the tin with a piece of string, then use it as a guide to cut a strip of paper long enough to line the sides of the tin, and two and a half times the depth. Fold this strip in half lengthways, then make snips at 2.5cm intervals along the fold.
  3. Grease the base of the tin and put in one circle of parchment. Grease the sides of the tin and insert the folded strip of paper, pressing down the snipped edges on the base. Finally, place the second disc on top to secure the snipped edges in place. Heat the oven to 140°C/120°C fan/ gas 1.
  4. Beat together the butter and sugars with an electric whisk until light and fluffy followed by the eggs, one at a time. Combine the flour, ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and ground ginger and fold into the butter mixture. Add the chopped almonds and syrup to the soaked fruit, then fold into the mixture.
  5. Spoon it into the prepared tin and bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 4-4½ hours, until the top is dark golden and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  6. Leave to cool on a cooling rack, then remove from the tin. Use a skewer to pierce the top of the cake at regular intervals and carefully spoon over 2 tbsp of brandy, so that it soaks in.
  7. Wrap the cake in two layers of fresh baking parchment, then in foil. Feed it with alcohol every two weeks (up to three times before Christmas). Don’t overdo it or your cake will go soggy. It’s also best not to feed it for a week before you ice it. It will keep for up to three months if stored in an airtight tin in a cool, dark place

Nutritional info per serving

Calories: 501
19.9g(saturated 9.3g)

See more Christmas baking ideas

Step 2 – ice your cake

Takes 35 minutes, plus drying time

The earliest you should ice your cake is one week before Christmas. Our quantities are for a 23cm-diameter cake


750g ready-to-roll marzipan
2 tbsp apricot jam
Icing sugar, for dusting
1kg ready-to-roll fondant icing


  1. Place your cake on a cake board or stand. If it has a bumpy top, carefully slice across it to even it out, then turn over so you have a smooth surface to ice
  2. Put the apricot jam into a small saucepan with 2 tsp water and warm it until it loosens. Strain it through a sieve into a small bowl and use a pastry brush to apply a thin layer to the top and sides of the cake
  3. Measure over the top and sides of the cake with string. This will be your guide to the size of the circles of marzipan and fondant icing you need to roll out
  4. Lightly dust a clean work surface and rolling pin with icing sugar. Knead the marzipan for 2 minutes until pliable.
  5. Roll the marzipan into a circle to cover the cake, plus a little extra. Turn the marzipan every few rolls so that it doesn’t stick to the surface – use a little more icing sugar if you need to. Fold the marzipan onto the rolling pin, and lift it onto the cake. Working from the top, carefully smooth the marzipan over the sides of the cake with your hands. With a small, sharp knife, cut away the excess marzipan. Leave the cake uncovered for 24-48 hours, to let the marzipan dry out a little
  6. When you are ready to ice, brush a small amount of water over the marzipan. Knead the fondant icing until pliable. Lightly dust the work surface and rolling pin with icing sugar – try not to use too much or the fondant icing will dry out and may crack
  7. Using string as a guide as before, repeat step 5 using the icing instead of marzipan. Trim of any excess icing with a small sharp knife.

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