I’d like to say that this recipe has been handed down over generations, and that I faithfully make it every year without fail. But that would be a lie. The original recipe is actually a firm family favourite, just not from my family. A friend of mine shared it with me earlier this year and I just fell in love with its simplicity. Naturally I have made it my own with several tweaks.


Difficulty Easy

Prep time 25mins (approx.)

Total time 2hrs 30 minutes (approx.) 


Preheat your oven to 170'C fan-forced or 190'C conventional. Grease and line two 18cm cake tins (with removable bases), you could also use one 26cm cake tin but I prefer the smaller cakes.

In a large, wide-based pot, combine the butter, sugar, dried and glacé fruits, spices, zest, bicarbonate of soda and Marsala, bring to the boil over medium heat and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

Add the eggs and almond essence to the fruit mix then stir in the flours until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin(s) and decorate with extra glacé cherries and blanched almonds. Bake for 90-100 minutes or until cooked (when a skewer comes out clean). Remove from the oven and pour 1 tablespoon of brandy, rum or Marsala over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, cool in its tin on a cake rack.


Thank you to the gorgeous Karen Martini for this stunning fruit cake recipe.

makes 2 cakes
  • 225 grams unsalted butter
  • 270 grams soft brown sugar
  • 500 grams mixed sultanas and currants Add to basket
  • 150 grams dried pears, chopped Add to basket
  • 100 grams pitted dates, chopped Add to basket
  • 100 grams dried cranberries Add to basket
  • 50 grams mixed peel Add to basket
  • 130 grams red glacé cherries Add to basket
  • 125 grams glacé ginger, chopped Add to basket
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice Add to basket
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon Add to basket
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger Add to basket
  • 2 teaspoons orange, finely grated zest
  • 1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 375 ml Marsala, you could also add a slug of rum or brandy (keep the total volume the same), plus 1 tablespoon extra
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon almond essence Add to basket
  • 225 grams plain flour
  • 225 grams self-raising flour
  • 125 grams glacé cherries, to decorate Add to basket
  • 150 grams whole blanched almonds, to decorate Add to basket

"You can make this on Christmas Eve, or even on Christmas Day, if time gets the better of you, but it will intensify in flavour if you can make it a week or so beforehand"