Christmas fruit cake (Photo: iStock)

Cake mixing is a tradition that dates back to 17th Century Europe. A Christmas fruit cake can contain up to 37 different varieties of dry fruits, nuts and spices


For the macerated fruits:

300g raisins

150g diced dried apricots

75g mixed peel


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150g glazed cherries

180g dates

1 cup + 2 tbsp apple juice, OR 1/3 brandy + 2/3 juice

For the cake:

115g unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil (or canola, peanut, grapeseed)

3 tbsp molasses or golden syrup

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp all spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

3 eggs

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 2/3 cups plain flour (all-purpose flour)

3/4 cup walnuts


Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease and line an 8 – 9" round cake pan with baking paper (parchment paper) (7 cm / 2.75" tall).

Using an electric beater, beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute on speed 5). Add oil and molasses, and beat until combined.

Add salt, spices and baking powder – beat until incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated. Stir in the flour.

When mostly incorporated, stir in the fruit mix (including all the extra liquid in the bowl) and walnuts (if using).

Pour into cake pan, cover with foil and bake for 3 hours 15 minutes, removing foil the last 45 minutes. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean with no batter on it.

Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Cool completely before serving.

The cake is moist and so full flavoured, it can be eaten plain. But see below for decorating and serving ideas (traditionally served with pouring custard).

Cutting: Either cut into thin wedges or cut the cake into thin strips (2cm / 0.75" or so), then cut those strips into serving-size pieces.

Recipe by Sarova Stanley’s pastry chef Ruppet Ochieng’