Spiced Christmas Cake

, from Issue #45. August, 2015
Photography by Manja Wachsmuth.
Spiced Christmas Cake

This recipe, passed down to my aunt from my paternal grandmother, has been a family favorite for years. I would always politely turn down Christmas Cake until I tried this one. Sweetened with condensed milk and delicately spiced with curry powder, this moist, rich cake will continue to please well after Christmas – if there is any left.


397 gram tin sweetened condensed milk
125 grams butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rum
1 teaspoon lemon essence
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup milk, warmed
2 cups plain flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon each ground mace and cloves
2 cups currants
2 cups raisins
2 cups sultanas
2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1 cup walnut pieces, roasted
425 g tin sliced pineapple, drained and diced

To finish
1 cup brandy, plus extra for weekly dousing

22 cm x 9 cm deep, square cake tin, lined with a double thickness of brown paper


Preheat the oven to 120˚C.

Put the condensed milk, butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat. Stir until the butter is melted and ingredients are combined. Pour into a large bowl and cool.

Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla, rum and lemon essence.

Combine the baking soda and milk in a small bowl then add to the egg mixture.

Sift the flour, salt, and spices together in a large bowl and add the fruit, walnuts and pineapple, tossing so they are well coated in the flour. Using a large metal spoon fold into the wet ingredients in three batches, ensuring there are no pockets of flour in the batter.

Spoon the batter into the tin.

Bake for 3 – 3½ hours. A skewer inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean.

While the cake is still hot, using a thin skewer, gently poke holes over the entire cake then pour over the brandy.

Keep the cake wrapped in muslin in an airtight container. Drizzle with an extra 1/8 cup of brandy each week before Christmas.

If you wish to decorate the cake, top with a layer of marzipan and decorate with dried nuts and fruits. We used roasted walnut halves, dried cranberries and slivers of dried dates.