Irish Christmas Cake

The cake tastes best when baked 1–3 weeks ahead of time. This traditional cake is served at holiday festivities throughout December. It is traditionally decorated with marzipan (almond paste), white icing, and holly sprigs.


  • 2¼ cups dried currants
  • 2 cups golden raisins
  • 1 cup dark raisins
  • ¼ cup candied cherries
  • ¼ cup candied fruit peel
  • ⅔ cup almonds, chopped
  • 1 lemon (juice and grated rind of its peel)
  • 1½ teaspoons allspice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 1 cup Irish whiskey (used in ½-cup amounts; may substitute ½-cup strong tea)
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • Marzipan (almond paste)
  • White icing (purchased)
  • Holly sprigs (optional decoration)


  1. The day before baking: Combine all the fruit, peel, rind and juice, spices, and nuts in a large bowl with ½ cup of the whiskey (or tea) and let soak overnight.
  2. The day of baking: Preheat oven to 275°F and grease a 9-inch round cake pan, lining the bottom with cooking parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat the eggs in one at a time, adding flour with each egg.
  5. Mix in the remaining flour and soaked fruit.
  6. Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake until it is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 2 hours.
  7. Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes. If substituting tea for whiskey, skip this step: Prick the top in several places and pour the remaining ½ cup whiskey over the top.
  8. Wrap in plastic wrap, then foil, and store in a cool, dark place for several weeks to allow the cake to mature (fully absorb the flavors). The cake can be unwrapped occasionally and more whiskey added, if desired.

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