Californian Christmas Cake


Ok, before I show the pictures of this cake, lets me make a confession: I messed up the recipe when I made the cake this year.

I put it in the oven, all was going swimmingly, then 2hrs later I take it out and realise that I had the oven up at 180C instead of 160C and the top of my cake was charcoal black. You can imagine my frustration and anger when you realise that this is my favourite Christmas cake recipe. What a shame to mess it up when you only make it once a year!


This is the first Christmas cake recipe I ever really used (minus a disastrously overly-boozy chocolate one which was revolting but that was with my mum so I blame her love of a good drink for that disastrous attempt). As far as Christmas cakes go, it is pretty quick and simple. There is no marzipan or royal icing – I’m not a fan of those so that is why this one is my favourite, I save all that effort for the other one: Iced and Marzipan Christmas Cake – instead there is a sleek honey glaze over the top. There is lots of dried fruit, ground almonds to add that extra delicious moist texture (when you don’t burn it), rum for the booze and the cake comes out of the oven as a dark brown, golden circle of yumminess (when you haven’t burnt it).

Californian Christmas cakes are usually very nutty. The only nuts I’ve used here are the ground almonds but you can add extra chopped almonds to the batter or place whole nuts on top of the actual cake if that is your thing (I’m trying to make it appeal to a fifteen year old brother so I leave them out).


For now, I am sharing my irritating photos of a burnt cake that looks much better when you don’t screw up like me, but next year I promise I will update it with a proper photograph showing just how pretty it is. If you can’t wait that long, then here is the recipe to try below…

Californian Christmas Cake

(20cm/ 8inch cake tin, serves 10)

-350g raisins -50g glace cherries -50g sultanas and currants -3tbsp rum -300ml water -175g salted butter -175g dark brown sugar -3 eggs -50g ground almonds -225g self-raising flour -1tsp ground mixed spice -Clear honey, to glaze

  1. Heat the fruit in a saucepan with the rum and water until the fruit has absorbed some of the liquid. Leave to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 160C. Line the cake tin with baking parchment.
  3. Beat the butter and the sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, followed by the ground almonds. Fold in the flour and spice before mixing in the fruit mixture.
  4. Scrape the contents of the bowl into the cake tin and smooth the top. Bake in the oven for 2 – 2 1/4 hours until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre leaves clean. Cool in the cake tin for half an hour before transferring to a wire rack.
  5. Once completely cool, warm up the honey and brush the top of the cake with the melted liquid to create a sticky glaze. Store in an airtight container.



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