Nigella’s Boozy Christmas Fruit Cake


Christmas may have been over, but as we move closer to the year end, the celebrations are still on. On a Sunday last fortnight, I flipped through Nigella’s book, 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' wondering if it held some fool proof traditional recipes that I could bake for Christmas this year. The first thought that comes as obvious, is baking that traditional Fruit cake that I was brought up eating during the Christmas time. Of course, those were the store bought ones.

For long now I have been baking mine at home, made fairly the traditional way by soaking fruits, peels and all of that in liquor of some sort for months, before it can be thrown at ease to bake the Fruit cake that can sit for some time, mature and liberate flavours to be brought out at the table during Christmas. It’s good and so good that many a times, it sees end before Christmas. Probably it’s the only time I step into a liquor boutique with no qualms, the time you’ll see me meddling around with mounds of dry fruits, scrapping citrusy zests, amassing peels, chopping nuts and doing all that soaking and sniffing, intoxicating myself in warmth of some boozy fruity aroma. It’s often during this time of the year that I sprint to action with baking that leaves me satisfied immensely, because I love the charismatic happy faces, the assuring smiles by people while sinking their teeth into homemade fruit laden cake. And every so often if time be at hand, I do not hesitate to bake eggless versions that can be relished by my dad too.

I do seek for trivial changes I can make each time, sometimes follow a different recipe too. This time around when I flipped through Nigella’s book, How to be a Domestic Goddess I jumped in joy to see her recipe for traditional Fruit cake under Christmas section and that for sure made my thoughts clear that I wanted to go with it. While the recipe itself is great, my cake turned out a tad bit dry. But then that’s entirely my fault. I followed the recipe to tee carefully weighing out the ingredients on the scale, but soon realized that my butter weighed just 72gms as against 110gms I needed. My husband who kept an occasional tame watch rolled his eyes, as he saw me flip almost an entire pack of butter into the cake batter and then weigh out rest of the oil. He almost shrieked as I made my way to add the oil and suggested I should do without it! I found that 235gms of flour was sufficient as the batter got quite stiff and added a teaspoon of baking powder for the rise. Nevertheless, it still tasted great.

I have made fruit cakes with rum in the past, however here I went ahead with brandy as suggested in the recipe. I am not a connoisseur in wines so I can’t really differentiate. While Nigella lists out each ingredient for dry fruits separately, I substituted the same with the homemade mincemeat and candied orange peels I made earlier. To add an extra touch, I added handful of almonds and nuts to the cake batter. The fresh grated ginger is optional, but adds a beautiful spicy warmth to the cake. The cake needs to be stored in a cool, dry and dark place and stays as long as 6 weeks. If you can't use alcohol in your cakes then I urge you use orange juice as an alternative. However this may reduce the life of the cake as the alcohol helps to act as a preservative.

Nigella’s Boozy Christmas Fruit Cake


110 g salted butter
2 large eggs
90 g brown sugar
1 tbsp. marmalade
235 g plain flour
125 ml brandy
2 tsp. baking powder
300 g homemade mincemeat
100 g chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp. all spice mix
1 tsp. grated ginger (optional)


Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a clean bowl. Add in the nuts (optional) to this and coat well. If you wish to notch up the spices, you may also add in some grated ginger or more all spices mix to the flour. Separately, cream the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, followed by the prepared mincemeat, marmalade and liquor to this and whisk well. Next add the flour, baking powder mix into the wet ingredients and stir till there are no lumps. Add in any additional dry fruits and nuts if preferred. Butter and grease a 8 inch loose bottom cake tin and line with grease proof paper. Pour the cake batter into the tin and cook for approx. for an hour. Insert a toothpick and test. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack. This can be stored well for couple of weeks.