With the aroma of this filling the house, there’s only one word that seems suitable:


The fruit and spices now have to steep in alcohol and sugar for a full week. Double phwoar!

How did this come about? Well, I sat down and gave myself a good talking to. ‘Karen, you have never made a Christmas cake in your life, ever. Sort it out!’

So sort it out I did, with the help of Nigella. You would not believe how much alcohol goes into this recipe:

I was meant to use rum, port and something else I can’t remember. After sticking my head into the drinks cabinet (aka kitchen cupboard that holds spirits) I found a near-empty bottle of rum rattling around at the back. Everything else was whisky, so I decided to throw the recipe out of the window and use what I had to hand. Whisky and rum. Lots of it.

I’m hoping my boyfriend doesn’t read this blog post. He’s a massive whisky fan and if he realises that some of his precious Scotch Malt Whisky Society whisky has gone into a cake mixture… Did I mention that he doesn’t particularly like Christmas cake?

Now, some of you may be thinking, But this is a sewing and knitting blog, not a food blog. In order to crow bar some crafting into this post, I snapped a gratuitous photo of crochet and whisky…

Let me know if you have any top tips for making this Christmas cake even better. Although with the alcohol fumes currently wafting around the house, I can’t promise I’ll be up to doing anything else…

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28 Responses to Phwoar!

  1. amberelayne says:

    Yummmmmmmm!!!!!!!! Maybe the BF will like Christmas cake better if his good whiskey is in it 😉 Love the colours of your crocheting!

  2. MrsC says:

    Go you. I don’t know how Nigella’s cake rolls but I am a heavy duty cake maker – in that I make about 8-10 each year for various bods and causes, and my top tip would normally be to drench the fruit in all of the flour before adding the creamed mix. However this divine concoction of yours is so moist I wonder if the whole approach is different to the cream butter and sugar, add eggs etc. So my other top tips would be to add the grated zest of a couple of oranges as they have such a fresh aroma, to line the tin with at least two but preferably more layers of paper, and to make the cuff of paper stand up past the tin. All this malarkey is to protect the outside of the cake from the long cooking time, which was a heap bigger deal in the old days of coal ranges, but is still a good precautionary measure 🙂

    • They all sound like EXCELLENT tips and I shall be taking them all on board. Thank you!

      • MrsC says:

        Welcome 🙂 My fruit has been steeping in brandy, stones green ginger wine and triplesec for a month, all 11 pounds of it, and I think I’ll start baking on Sunday. Already made 4 puddings! It’s utter lunacy, bearing in mind it is summer here and summer fruits are in season, that we persist in making rich things out of dried fruits but we mad antipodeans are used to being upside down and back to front 🙂

  3. Graca says:

    mmm, Christmas cake. Nigella’s recipe looks yummy, I must give this a try. I like using dried mangos and papaya in my Christmas cake. I made a few loaves back in July but I’m down to one left, I have no will power.

  4. Louise says:

    I made mine last week my recipe says to soak the fruit in alcohol for days before baking. Yummy! Don’t forget to carry on feeding the cake until you decorate it so even more alcohol!!!

  5. Sherry says:

    How coincidental – I’ve just sat down to blog-read with a coffee and Christmas mince pie – for breakfast, hehe! I’m sure your boyfriend will love the “Whisky Society” Christmas cake!

    PS your crochet looks awesome and colourful – you might like Lucy’s blog at Attic24 (on my blogroll) as she does a lot of colourful crochet, and every time I check it out I want to get hooking!

  6. Felicity from Down Under says:

    Personally I take the view that good cake deserves good ingredients and surely your boyfriend’s whisky is the best. Therefore, it will be a fantastic cake. The crochet looks good, too. I love the brightness of the colours.

  7. Debi says:

    yum. whisky cake. what could be better?

  8. Sewer says:

    I assume this is what Americans call “fruitcake.” Most people I know don’t like it. Maybe it’s a matter of getting the right mix of fruit and alcohol. When I saw the photo, Ithought this was Rumtopf.

    • Interestingly, I’m not sure all Brits are over-fussed about Christmas cake, either! So much of it abounds, but I just wanted to make one at least once in my life! Ooh, Rumtopf… I had to Google it, but it looks amazing.

    • romney says:

      I’m with the Americans on this one. Yuck! If I have to make it I cheat and make just cook up the dried fruit with the alcohol before putting it in the mix – saves all that soaking beforehand. And I only put in fruit I actually like. As long as the resulting cake looks brown and full of stuff, no one cares. They’re only going to smother it in cream anyway.

      • romney says:

        Oh, and I use the Boiled Fruit Cake recipe by Rose Prince from the New English Kitchen. Its more like a Ginger Cake and just takes a few days to go all sticky and delicious.

  9. Chris Fraser says:

    In addition to the advice already given, I’d ‘feed’ the cake with more alcohol between now and icing it. Once the cake is cooked, allow it to cool completely. Then turn it upside down and use a skewer to make holes almost all the way through at regular intervals (about 10-12 holes?). dribble a couple of tablespoons of brandy/whisky/rum carefully over the upside down cake and let it soak in. Wrap the cake in 2 layers of greaseproof paper and then a layer of foil. Repeat the ‘feeding’ every week or two.Christmas cake no. 36 has just come out of the oven and this works for me.
    PS Crochet colours are awesome!

  10. Vicki Kate says:

    Here’s my tuppence worth. Wrap the outside of the tin in a double layer of brown paper as it stops the edges and top burning before the cake is cooked. I think you’re supposed to use string to secure it traditionally, but I just use scotch magic tape to stick the top layer of the wrapped paper to the bottom and it works fine!
    The other is when you get the cake out of the oven, have a couple of sheets of foil that are big enough to wrap the whole thing, tin and all, in (minus the brown paper). I use regular kitchen foil and pleat / fold the long edges together to get a big enough sheet. When you get the cake out of the oven, plonk it on the two layers of foil, liberally sprinkle the top of the cake with your alcohol of choice then wrap the whole shebang in the foil, squishing the ‘top hat’ of lining paper down above the cake. This seals all the steam from the alcohol in and makes sure that the top of the cake stays nice and soft. Don’t try and get it out of the tin until its completely cold. This took nearly 24 hours for my cake this year, and it was in the oven for over 4…
    And its a great cake recipe, and you can taste the alcohol used, so its definitely worth using the best!

  11. Michelle says:

    Well, if he’s going to leave it lying around like that …

    Good luck with your cake! I make a few evey year, but they are the grog-free fullofcrushedpineapple type. Delicious.

    • Felicity from Down Under says:

      I note you mentioned thatfruitKarendoesn’tlike very quickly so she wouldn’t notice; but I must say, sounds delish.

  12. oonaballoona says:

    oh god. i can’t think of ANY way to make a christmas cake better than to use your best whiskey. i want a piece like you wouldn’t believe.

    i once used ruggy’s good scotch for a torte. he alternated between bites of delight and glares of hatred. it is my firm belief that one should ALWAY use the best alcohol, no matter what you’re doing with it.

    i knew i liked you.

  13. Karen says:

    Karen–the first Christmas pudding I made was snatched from the dining table and consumed in the blink of an eye by my criminally insane (and very tall) dog. He also ate an entire bowl of brandy butter. I have made one every year since (the dog is much better behaved now) and have used a different recipe each time. Last year I made Nigella’s. It is my favorite, perhaps in part because it contains no glace cherries, which aren’t my favorite (I’ve never been sure they are real food). I think substituting the whisky will be fine. My grandmother always used bourbon in her Christmas cake and it was delicious.

  14. LinB says:

    The worst fruitcake I ever et was made with those gelatin “orange slices” candies. My husband loved it. I am ambivalent about these cakes: usually one thin slice a year is enough, with a cup of very hot tea. “Gratuitous Crochet & Whiskey” would be an excellent name for a needlework club. Less so as a band name. Terrible as a wrestling nickname.

  15. silvia says:

    Last Christmas I had a two day layover in London until 12/24 (I work for an airline) and bought a big ol’ slab of Christmas cake at Waitrose. I’d never had it and thought it would be delicious – it weighed about 2 pounds and was so pretty with the icing. The next night I was to work to Ghana and knew there would be little xmas fixings and I couldn’t get home to California between trips. I took that cake all the way to Africa and it was NOT GOOD. Was I just missing the booze, since I’m pretty sure the store wouldn’t sell boozed up cake? Should I try again this year with your recipe? Should I chalk it up to not being British? Should I just drink the booze and forget the cake?

  16. We had a pet rat who made off with a thorntons chocolate!

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