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Mary Berry's Christmas cake

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  • 100g red or natural glacé cherries
  • 100g ready-to-eat dried Fairtrade apricots
  • 275g currants
  • 175g each Fairtrade sultanas & raisins
  • 50g finely chopped candied peel
  • ¼ level tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ level tsp ground mixed spice
  • 3 tbsp brandy
  • 225g plain flour
  • 225g softened butter
  • 225g dark Fairtrade muscovado sugar
  • 4 large RSPCA Assured eggs
  • 50g chopped Fairtrade almonds
  • 1 scant tbsp black treacle
  • Grated rind of 1 Fairtrade lemon
  • Grated rind of 1 Fairtrade orange


  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 285 minutes
  • Serves: 18 - 20 people


  • Begin this cake the night before you want to bake it.
  • Cut the cherries into quarters, put in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper.
  • Snip the apricots into pieces.
  • Measure the fruits into a large bowl, mix in the brandy, cover and leave in a cool place overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 140°C/fan 120°C/gas 1.
  • Grease a 20 cm (8 in) deep round cake tin, then line the base and sides with a double layer of baking parchment.
  • Measure the flour, spices, butter, sugar, eggs, almonds, treacle, lemon and orange rinds into a large bowl.
  • Beat well, then fold in the soaked fruits.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out evenly with the back of a spoon.
  • Cover the top of the cake loosely with a double layer of baking parchment.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 4½–4¾ hours or until the cake feels firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.
  • When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer & feed with a little brandy. Wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of baking parchment, again in foil, & store in cool place.
  • Feed at intervals with more brandy.
  • Don’t remove the lining parchment when storing as this helps to keep the cake moist.
  • Cover the cake with almond paste about a week before icing.
  • Cover the cake with fondant or ready-to-roll icing.
  • Colour the almond paste (left over from putting the almond paste on to the cake) dark green.
  • Roll out on a board that has been lightly sprinkled with icing sugar and cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) wide strips. 
  • Cut these into diamonds and then, with the base of an icing nozzle, remove half circles from the sides of the diamonds to give holly-shaped leaves.
  • Make vein marks on the leaves with a sharp knife, bend the leaves over the handles of wooden spoons and leave to dry.
  • Decorate the top of the cake with the almond-paste holly leaves and finish by tying a ribbon around the sides of the cake.

Recipe from The Freedom Food Recipe Collection

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