Nothing gets us in the festive spirit like the smell of freshly baked fruit cake. This recipe from For Friends & Family, by Nicky Stubbs, R385, (Human & Rousseau) needs a bit of time in the oven but it’s definitely worth the wait


  • 500g currants
  • 500g sultanas
  • 250g raisins
  • 250g candied peel
  • 250g glacé cherries
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 250g blanched or slivered almonds
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 300g sugar
  • 1t vanilla essence
  • 1t almond essence
  • 4 extra­large eggs
  • 500g cake flour
  • 1T ground mixed spice
  • 2t ground cinnamon pinch of salt
  • ½ cup marmalade or apricot jam
  • 1t bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 15 ml (1T) milk


1. Pour boiling water over all the fruit, drain and then soak in the brandy overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease and double line a large cake tin.
3. Roast the almonds on a baking tray in the oven until just browned. Chop.
4. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together well.
5. Add the vanilla and almond essences and the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between.
6. Sift in the flour, spices and salt and fold in.
7. Mix in the marmalade or jam, fruit, brandy and nuts.
8. Add the bicarbonate of soda and milk.
9. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and cover with foil.
10. Bake for 2 hours at 180°C and then reduce the heat to 140°C and bake for a further 4 hours.
11. Allow to cool completely in the tin and store wrapped in greaseproof paper and foil.

(Makes 1 generous cake)