Bettys traditional Christmas cake

Bettys traditional Christmas cake
  • Serves icon Makes a 23cm round cake
  • Time icon Hands on time 40 min, oven time 2½ hours, plus overnight soaking

Try a Christmas cake recipe made with wonderful fruits, spices and sherry, from Bettys – the famous Harrogate bakers.

And if you’re going to the trouble of making your own cake, then why not try making homemade marzipan as well?



  • 100g currants
  • 450g raisins
  • 80g mixed peel
  • 200g glace cherries
  • finely grated zest 1 orange and 1 lemon, plus the juice of the lemon
  • 100ml dark sherry
  • 275g unsalted butter, softened
  • 275g dark muscovado sugar
  • 30g black treacle
  • 4 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • 280g plain flour
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 30g liquid glycerine

You will also need


  • 23cm, 10cm deep cake tin, fully lined with baking paper, with more baking paper tied around the outside to act as a collar.


  1. The day before you want to bake the cake, put the dried fruit into a large bowl with the grated zest, then pour over the lemon juice and sherry. Mix thoroughly to combine, cover with clingfilm and leave to stand overnight.
  2. The next day, heat the oven to 140°C/120°C fan/gas 2. Beat the butter, sugar and treacle together in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well between each addition, then fold through the flour, spices and ground almonds using a large metal spoon. Stir the glycerine into the soaked fruit, then pour everything into the cake mixture, including any leftover liquid and stir gently until the fruit is evenly distributed.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking tin, level the top then bake for 2½ hours (check after 2), until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Once cooked, leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack and cooling completely.
  4. Once cool, flip it back the right way up (cooling on its head will help to flatten the top), then brush the top and sides of the cake with more sherry, or your favourite spirit (see tip). Wrap in baking paper and tin foil and place in an airtight container for up to 3 months, feeding it once a month with more alcohol. The last feed should be no less than a week before you plan to cover the cake with marzipan, to give it time to dry out.

delicious. tips

  1. Make the cake up to 3 months in advance, and feed it with a few spoonfuls of sherry, brandy or rum every week. Make sure it’s well wrapped in baking paper and tin foil, then placed in an airtight tin, and keep it somewhere dark and cool.


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