It can be nice to get ahead of ourselves at Christmas, and the cake is a great way to do just that. Most Christmas cakes can be baked up to 6-8 weeks ahead of time.

A good Christmas cake is moist, rich, and slightly spicy, and packed with fruit and nuts. The cake is kept moist from regular ‘feedings’ of whiskey every 7-10 days. What a life!

Tips for a traditional make-ahead Christmas cake:
  1. Be sure to soak your dried fruit in the soaking liquid (whiskey or fruit juice) overnight. This adds a great moistness to the finished cake.
  2. Mix all the ingredients by hand; over-mixing can lead to a tough cake.
  3. Bake on a low temperature — about 150˚C/130˚C fan/gas mark 2 — to guarantee a moist cake. 
  4. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin for about one day.
  5. To ‘feed’ the cake, use a skewer to poke a few holes in its underside. Spread about one tablespoon of whiskey over the cake so it seeps into the holes. Repeat this every 7-10 days in the lead-up to Christmas (about 4-6 ‘feedings’ in total).
  6. To store, wrap the cake tightly with parchment paper held in place with kitchen string or a rubber band.