Santa’s Guilty Pleasure

This is the best Christmas cake ever. And that’s a fact. Once you give this a go, you’ll never revert to Great Aunt Elsie’s recipe ever again. It will become part of your Christmas tradition. Like always making room for seconds despite knowing it’ll burst those buttons once and for all. Or arguing over what should be the first Christmas movie you watch (it’s The Grinch, by the way). The recipe claims to serve 16 but, in our experience, you’ll be lucky to make it stretch that far, particularly if you get the post-monopoly munchies.

Walnut and Whiskey Christmas Cake

Takes about 25 minutes to make, 2.5* hours to bake, plus cooling and 24 hours soaking

Christmas Cake

175g raisins
175g sultanas
175g ready-to-eat stoned dates, roughly chopped
150g natural glacé cherries, halved
100g ready-to-eat dried pears, roughly chopped (or use dried apple)
75g crystallised stem ginger, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
250ml whiskey (Irish is best!)
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g dark muscovado sugar
4 eggs, beaten
200g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tablespoon golden syrup
2 teaspoons ground allspice
150g walnut halves, toasted
Fresh bay leaf sprigs, to decorate
Fresh cranberries (if using frozen, thaw and pat dry), to decorate

For the whiskey butter icing:
450g golden icing sugar
150g unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons glucose syrup
3–4 tablespoons whiskey


  1. Put the raisins, sultanas, dates, cherries, pears, ginger and lemon zest into a large bowl. Pour over the whiskey, cover and leave to soak for 24 hours, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has absorbed the liquid.
  2. Grease the base and sides of a deep 20cm springform cake tin, line with a double thickness of baking paper, the paper should sit higher than the tin. Weigh out 300g of the soaked fruit and tip into a food processor. Blend the fruit to a thick, dark purée.
  3. Preheat the oven to 150°C/fan130°C/gas 2. Using an electric hand whisk, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little flour to prevent the mixture curdling. Fold in the remaining flour, along with the fruit purée, remaining soaked fruit, golden syrup, allspice and walnuts, until combined. Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for 2.5 hours or until a skewer/knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 1 hour, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.

Tip: Wrap the un-iced cake in baking paper and store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 3 months.

To make the whiskey butter icing:
Gradually beat the icing sugar into the butter, adding the glucose syrup and enough whiskey as you go until the icing is smooth and spreadable. Spread over the top and sides of the cake, swirling it with a palette knife. Decorate with the bay leaves and cranberries to serve.
Once iced, store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

* In our experience, 2.5 hours often turns into 4 hours, so just judge the time required by checking the cake occasionally. Remember the skewer needs to come out clean.

Recipe from delicious magazine