Christmas cake

Christmas cake

Vanessa Levis

I still get a lot of people telling me they make my Christmas cake every year. It’s best made a few months ahead of Christmas. It’s something to have for when people drop in, and the smell of it in the house is divine. It’s very nice to have with a glass of madeira.


Quantity Ingredient
1 Rich fruit cake

Almond paste

Quantity Ingredient
480g pure icing sugar, sifted
250g ground almonds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sweet sherry
1 egg yolk
2-3 drops almond essence


Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons apricot jam
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice


Quantity Ingredient
2 egg whites
500g pure icing sugar, sifted
1-2 teaspoons lemon juiced


  1. Make the cake two months before Christmas, and store in an airtight tin until required.
  2. To make the almond paste, combine the icing sugar and ground almonds. Add the lemon juice, sherry, egg yolk and essence and mix to form a firm paste that can be rolled out. If necessary, add a little more sherry.
  3. To make the glaze, bring the jam and water to the boil and boil for 4 minutes. Push through a sieve, return to the pan with the lemon juice and heat through. Brush the hot glaze over the top of the cake.
  4. Roll out the almond paste into a round to fit the top and sides of the cake. Trim off excess paste (see Note). Place on the cake and gently press all over with the edge of a rolling pin until smooth and even. Leave for at least 24 hours before icing.
  5. To make the icing, whisk the egg whites to a light froth and gradually add the icing sugar, beating well. Stir in the lemon juice and continue beating until the icing stands in soft peaks. Spread the icing over the top and sides of the cake. Rough up the icing around the sides and the edge of cake to resemble drifting snow. Decorate as desired. A little of the icing may be set aside, coloured, and used to write ‘Merry Christmas’ on the cake. Let the icing set overnight.


  • Wrap excess almond paste in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for several weeks. It can be used as a sweetmeat to fill pitted dates or to sandwich walnut halves together.

    Pure icing sugar, unlike icing sugar mixture, does not have added cornflour to prevent it from caking. Pure icing sugar sets hard, and is the type needed here.
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