Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake

Delias Classic Christmas Cake - A Cookbook Collection

One of my favourite childhood memories is the big brown Mason and Cash bowl with the butter and brown sugar softening in it for the Christmas cake. I have that bowl now and it is mostly used for making my Christmas cake.

As I am someone who doesn’t actually love Christmas cake, you might think it’s a bit strange to go to all the bother of making one. I like to set myself little challenges and see if I can do new things. So a couple of years ago, a Christmas cake was my challenge to myself. I made a couple of different cakes, handed them to the testers and this was voted the favourite. This is a very dark, rich fruit cake. So now this is the recipe I always use. I do actually like the cake – as much as I can like a fruit cake – it’s the marzipan and icing that I’m not fond of. Saying that, I wouldn’t dare leave them off!

I made mine last weekend to allow flavours to develop, admittedly later than I had planned, but there is still time to make a cake that will be delicious by Christmas.

You need to start the cake the night before you actually want to bake it as the fruit needs to soak in the brandy overnight. Take the rest of the ingredients out then too to make sure everything is at room temperature before you start. Delia suggests making a list of the ingredients and ticking them off as you add them to the mix. This is a good way to make sure you have included everything. You will need 3 large bowls for this and an 8″ round or 7″ square cake tin.

This recipe is back on Delia’s own website and you can find it here. The only difference I do is add the juice of the orange to the cake batter. There have been years where I’ve had issues with my oven and the cake came out a little dry, the orange juice helps to prevent this. Below are some tips that might make your life a little easier when making the cake.


Useful Tips & Links:

  • You need to begin this cake the night before you want to bake it. All you do is weigh out the dried fruit, cherries and mixed peel, place it in a mixing bowl and mix in the brandy as evenly and thoroughly as possible. Cover the bowl with a clean tea cloth and leave the fruit aside to absorb the brandy for 12 hours.
  • Next day prepare your cake tin. I grease the tin, line with parchment paper and then tie 2 layers of brown paper around the outside of the tin. This is to protect the edges of the cake as it will be in the oven for so long. There is a great guide here on Delia’s own site on how to line and prepare your cake tin.
  • Don’t try to pour the batter into the tin. Instead transfer the cake mixture into the prepared tin with a large spoon or ladle and spread it out evenly.
  • Covering the top of the cake with a double square of silicone paper with a small hole in the centre will stop the top from browning too much.
  • Remember to feed the cake at regular intervals, I usually do it every 5 days.
For the icing:
  • You can leave the cake un-iced if you wish. Delia places blanched almonds on top before baking if not icing. Others use various nuts and dried fruits to decorate.
  • I do ice these cakes and to do this, I use ready made marzipan and fondant icing.  The first time I did them I made the mistake of doing both the marzipan and icing on the same day. This made the surface of the icing bumpy. I have since discovered that the marzipan needs to be on the cake several days before topping with the fondant icing and that the fondant icing needs to be on the cake several days before eating.
  • These videos by Dan Lepard are very helpful to show how to do this. This video shows how to do the marzipan layer and this video shows how to do the fondant icing.


19 thoughts on “Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake

  1. I have been making this cake for over 30years since one of my daughters bought the recipe book for me,i always make two one decorated and one plain follow the instructions to the letter and it never fails happy christmas from this 86year old

    1. Thank you for commenting Mrs. Axford, that’s so lovely to hear. I have tried many recipes but as you say Delia’s never fails. I also make one decorated and one plain one for my parents. I think they feel virtuous eating the plain one in January 🙂 Happy Christmas to you and your family.

  2. nothing to do with your christmas cake, but your ginger cake, use fresh ginger it so enhances the flavor who needs dried ground ginger

  3. I have been making this Christmas cake for over 35 years, usually the biggest one possible as my family love it so much. Thank you.

  4. Hi I have made this cake the last 4 years and I would like to make more smaller cakes in a loaf tin, is it possible to use the same recipe and divide the ingredients up? How long would the cake take to cook?

  5. I used the tin size calculater to increase the mix for a 9” round tin. I’ve made the cake lots of times successfully but wanted it a little bigger for our wedding cake. Thankfully it worked perfectly phew! Just the marzipan and icing to do over the next few weeks and fresh roses from our garden on top.

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