Last Minute Christmas Cake

I’ve passed this recipe on to loads of people and they are all been effusive in their compliments. Quite simply, it makes an absolutely delicious Christmas cake – it’s moist, fruity, rich and delicious and is absolutely NEVER heavy or dry. We defy even the staunchest haters of fruitcake to dislike it. One of the brilliant things about it is that it doesn’t need to mature, or be ‘fed’ with further alcohol, so you can make it at the last minute. I have been known to make it on Boxing Day…


White Christmas Cake

  • Servings: 12-16 slices
  • Print


  • 350g ready-to-eat dried apricots
  • 1 x 200g tin of pineapple (tinned with juice not syrup)
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 100g glace cherries
  • 75g whole candied lemon peel (or pre-chopped but whole is so much nicer)
  • 75g whole candied orange peel (or pre-chopped but see above!)
  • 100g crystalized ginger
  • 200g sultanas
  • 3 tbsp vodka (optional)
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 5 medium eggs, beaten
  • 300g Self-Raising flour
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g whole almonds (blanched or unblanched according to preference)


  • Drain the pineapple (reserving the juice), roughly chop & put into a large non-metallic mixing bowl.
  • Very roughly chop the apricots, cherries, cranberries, ginger & peel into sultana-sized pieces. You might find it easiest to do this with a few quick pulses in a food processor (taking care not to over-chop) or with a pair of scissors. Add to the bowl along with the sultanas.
  • Stir in the vodka & 3 tbsp of the reserved pineapple juice, or 6 tbsp of reserved juice if you prefer not to use the vodka.
  • Cover the bowl & leave the fruit to soak overnight.
  • When you are ready to bake the cake, preheat the oven to 200C, Gas 6.
  • Put the almonds on a baking tray & toast in the oven for about 7 minutes – keep a close eye on them because it is easy to burn them.
  • Whilst the almonds are toasting, grease & base line a spring release 23cm round cake tin (line the sides too if you don’t have a spring release tin).
  • Now take the almonds out of the oven and turn the oven down to 170C, Gas Mark 3 and arrange the shelves so that you can fit your cake on a shelf in the centre of your oven.
  • Roughly chop the toasted almonds & set aside.
  • Put the butter in a large mixing bowl or food mixer & beat until it is soft & creamy. Add the sugar & beat hard until the mixture becomes pale & fluffy.
  • Gradually add the beaten eggs, bit by bit, beating hard after each addition.
  • Carefully fold in the flour with a gentle figure of 8 motion.
  • Add the coconut, lemon zest, chopped almonds & soaked fruits to the cake mixture & stir gently but thoroughly to combine it all well.
  • Spoon the cake mixture into your prepared tin & smooth it out, making a shallow hollow in the centre of the cake so it rises more evenly.
  • Put the cake in the centre of the oven & bake for about 30 minutes.
  • After 30 mins turn the oven down to 150C/Gas 2 & carefully cover the top of the cake loosely with a piece of foil.
  • Bake for another 1 to 1 1/4 hours until the cake is risen, firm to the touch & lightly browned.
  • Cool in the tin for an hour then turn onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
  • Once totally cooled wrap in a layer of greaseproof paper & a layer of foil & store in a cool dry place, or if you’re doing this at the last minute, cover with marzipan (and icing if you like) and eat!

Today’s Christmas Craft

Gift Wrap Guilt

I really love how gift wrap looks, and it’s so fantastic to get surprises of course, but I also really feel low about all the waste it involves. Obviously you can recycle and reuse the gift wrap that you receive, but I thought it would be good to track down some ideas to make your own gift wrapping a bit more eco-friendly.

Over at the idea-packed Diannajessie’s blog there’s a tutorial for making a Christmas gift bag… which of course are brilliant because they can be resused!  Another rather wondrous ideas-rich blog is the brilliant How About Orange where there are tutorials for making a gift bag out of newspaper and making a gift bow out of a magazine page.   I will be wrapping all our family presents in newspaper/magazine paper and then putting the subsequent debris on our compost heap – with the sticky tape carefully removed of course!

12 thoughts on “Last Minute Christmas Cake

  1. I made your cake on Dec 22nd this year, marzipanned it on the 23rd and iced it on the 24th !! We absolutely loved it, and hubby, who normally devotes himself to eating up the Xmas pud, vied with me this year for the cake. The cake mix was a bit more than I needed for my cake tin, so I put the remainder in a glass dish and cooked it just for the 1 1/4 hrs – that was also scrummy ! We ate it with plain Greek yogurt.
    We both loved the ginger, but you could always just leave it out if you don’t like ginger. Also I omitted the cranberries, the coconut and the almonds, but made up the total fruit weight elsewhere – well a recipe is just a starting point, isn’t it ?
    Thank you for a fabulous recipe that I shall definitely use again.

    1. So glad you liked it…! I think I beat you btw, cake made on 23rd and marzipanned on the 26th! The ginger is my favourite bit 🙂 but I totally agree that you can fiddle about with the fruit as much as you like – sour cherries make a lovely addition. 🙂 Thanks for such a lovely comment.

  2. Ali save’s the day – do you know Ali, I always make a Christmas cake and have done for 23 years, but this year with one thing and another I haven’t got round to it. Found a last minute christmas cake in my delia xmas book last night, but I think I am going to try out your recipe – it sounds absolutely fab. Also loving the links on the rest of the blog about Christmas Craft.

    Thank youuuuuuu x

  3. we made a white one last year well more golden as it turned out but really good ,have made one of delias this year !!!

  4. Ali, you’ve done it again! About an orange is a fab site – you must spend all day on the internet trawling sites! Me and the boys are going to spend the next couple of days playing with paper, (now our inch of snow has disappeared!) again – thanks, and hope you all have a wonderul Christmas xx

    1. Lol Jane, all I want to do is sit around making bits out of paper, and I really have to go and make a cushion, crochet 2 scarves and TIDY THE HOUSE!! Booooo…. You have a wonderful Christmas too. xxx

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