Delia’s classic Christmas cake

Delia’s classic Christmas cake

Dark, moist, very rich with more fruit than cake – it’s the nation’s favourite recipe, and it’s easy to see why. Here is Delia’s most popular stand alone recipe: her famous Christmas cake.

Fancy coating your Christmas cake with chocolate? Take a look at our boozy chocolate Christmas cake recipe.


For the pre-soaking

  • 450g currants
  • 175g sultanas
  • 175g raisins
  • 50g chopped glacé cherries
  • 50g mixed chopped candied peel
  • 100ml brandy

For the cake

  • 225g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ level teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • ½ level teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • 225g dark brown soft sugar
  • 4 large eggs
    1 dessertspoon black treacle
  • 225g spreadable butter
  • 50g chopped almonds (skin on)
  • Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • Armagnac or brandy to ‘feed’ the cake
  • 100g whole blanched almonds (only if you don’t intend to ice the cake)
  • Delia Online 20cm Round Cake Tin with Loose Base (or similar), greased, with base and side lined, plus some baking parchment. Tie a double band of brown paper around the outside of the tin for extra protection.


  1. You should get the pre-soaking ingredients ready the night before you make the cake. Put all the fruits in a bowl and mix them with the brandy, cover with a cloth and leave them to soak for a minimum of 12 hours.
  2. When you’re ready to cook the cake, pre-heat the oven to 140°C conventional oven, gas mark 1. Now all you do is sift the flour, salt and spices into a very large roomy mixing bowl then add the sugar, eggs, treacle (warm it a little first to make it easier) and butter and beat with an electric hand whisk until everything is smooth and fluffy. Now gradually fold in the pre-soaked fruit mixture, chopped nuts and finally the grated lemon and orange zests.
  3. Next, using a large kitchen spoon, transfer the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread it out evenly with the back of the spoon and, if you don’t intend to decorate the cake with marzipan and icing, lightly drop the blanched almonds in circles over the surface.

  4. Finally take a double square of baking parchment with a 50p-sized hole in the centre (for extra protection during the cooking) and place this not on top of the mixture itself but on the rim of the brown paper. Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4 hours until it feels springy in the centre when lightly touched. Sometimes it can take 30-45 minutes longer than
    this, but in any case don’t look at it for 4 hours.

Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. When it’s cold, ‘feed’ the cake by making small holes in the top and bottom with a cocktail stick and spooning in a couple of tablespoons of Armagnac or brandy, then wrap it in parchment-lined foil and store in an airtight tin. You can feed it again at odd intervals up until Christmas.

Recipe © Delia Smith 2008, Delia’s Frugal Food, published by Hodder and Stoughton. Click here for more Delia recipes, cookery school videos, information on bakeware and ingredients.

Recipe By

Delia Smith


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