Mary Berry Christmas Cake

Mary Berry Christmas Cake is wonderfully moist and absolutely delicious! A classic British fruitcake that can be baked well before Christmas and allowed to mature when lined with brandy for an even richer flavour.

Mary Berry Christmas Cake

Ingredients for Mary Berry Christmas Cake:

80 ml (⅓ cup) brandy or rum / whisky / amaretto / kirsch etc.
150 g dried apricots
200 g pitted dates or plums
250 g (2 cups) regular flour (all-purpose flour)
250 g (1 ½ cups) light brown sugar
4 large eggs
225 g (1 cup) soft butter
660 g canned minced meat
200 g quartered glacé cherries

Feeding the cake:
3 tablespoons brandy (or liqueur of choice) each time you feed the cake.
Royal icing
60 ml (¼ cup) beaten egg whites from a carton or two large eggs
450 g icing sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon liquid glucose

To decorate (optional):
4 tablespoons apricot jam, sieved, for glazing or as needed
450 g marzipan – you do not need to use it all
50 g cranberry


Preheat the oven to 300°F. Coat a 20 cm deep cake tin with baking release or grease with butter. Line the bottom and sides with a double layer of baking paper (do not skip this step).

Cut the apricots and dates into small, raisin-sized pieces. Add the brandy (or other alcohol of your choice) and microwave for 60 seconds to pop the fruit. Set aside.

Place the flour and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and mix together briefly. Now add the eggs and butter and beat with a hand mixer (or stand mixer) until smooth, scraping the bowl halfway through.

Add the mince and mix in on a low speed. Fold the soaked dried fruit and glacé cherries into the batter with a spatula.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and smooth it out. Make a small well in the centre of the cake so that it bakes evenly.

Bake for 4 – 4 ½ hours until the cake has risen and is golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Check the cake at the 3 hour mark and cover with foil if it is getting too dark. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.

Poke holes in the cake with a skewer. Fill the cake with the brandy and wait for the alcohol to soak into the cake.

Leave the cake in the tin, well wrapped in the baking paper and a layer of foil. Keep the cake in a cool place and feed it with the alcohol of your choice every fortnight as time permits.

Make the royal icing:
The traditional Christmas cake is usually topped with a layer of marzipan and icing. I prefer to frost only the top of the cake as I find traditional frosting far too sweet. Frost the cake 2-3 days before serving.

Beat the egg whites until frothy, then gradually add the icing sugar one tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat on low speed.

Add the lemon juice and glycerine and beat on high speed until the icing forms firm peaks. Cover the surface of the icing with cling film to prevent it from drying out, unless it is to be used immediately.

Decorate the cake:
Dust your work surface generously with icing sugar and let the marzipan soften in your hands. Roll out the marzipan (slightly larger than 20 cm) and cut out a circle the size of your cake, using the cake tin as a guide.

Carefully turn the cake over so that you are using the flat underside. Spread the cake with warm, sieved apricot jam and fill small holes on the surface of the cake with small pieces of marzipan.

Place the marzipan circle on the cake and press it down to make it stick. Smooth the top and sides and leave to dry for a few hours or overnight.

Spoon the royal icing onto the cake and spread with a spatula. Leave to dry so that it hardens and decorate with glazed cranberries, rosemary sprigs or glazed gingerbread biscuits.

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Mary Berry Christmas Cake
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