Helen's Christmas Cake

Fri, 1st of December

This cake is lighter than a traditional Christmas cake. I have also added dates to make it rich and moist but in a sticky-toffee-pudding way, as opposed to a dried-dark-fruit way. Sometimes I will also throw in a few pecans. The mixture of fruit is up to you, so tailor it to your own personal taste adding figs, apricots or cherries as you desire. Personally, I do not like my fruit or cake soaked in alcohol but if that is your thing then go ahead and swap out the rooibos for brandy.

The recipe specifies homemade citrus peel and I cannot stress enough what a difference this makes but if you are out of time then please buy the whole candied peel and slice it, not those little tubs of gravel that taste of nothing. The addition of fresh ginger also adds spice and heat. A 1” piece will lend a hint of flavor but feel free to double that if you love ginger, like me. When you line the tin you can leave a high collar of parchment on the edges to protect the cake from burning on the top or have a peek after 2 hours and if you feel like you are in danger of a darkening cake top, pop a loose piece of foil over it.

Helen James


  • Light and rich fruit cake
  • 250g dried vine fruit (sultanas, raisins)
  • 220g dried fruit (apricots chopped, dried figs, dried cranberries, dried cherries)
  • 220g stoned dates chopped
  • 120ml hot rooibos tea (or brandy)
  • 1 orange, juice and zest
  • 280g butter, softened
  • 280g light brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 280g plain flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1”piece ginger grated
  • 40g candied ginger
  • 120g homemade candied peel
  • 20cm x 20cm square tin double lined


  1. 1. Soak all the fruit, dates and apricots in rooibos tea and orange juice and zest for up to 2 hours.
  2. 2. When ready to bake , pre heat oven to 150ºC.
  3. 3. Line tin with baking paper, a double layer will protect the cake from burning during the long cooking time.
  4. 4. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. 5. Add the eggs, 1 at a time combining well after each addition.
  6. 6. Stir in ground almonds and then add flour and spices and fresh ginger.
  7. 7. Add soaked fruit, candied peel and ginger to mixture and stir well.
  8. 8. Bake for 2 ½-3 ¼ hours or until cake tester comes out clean
  9. 9. Remove from oven and leave to cool
  10. 10. Serve as is or marzipan and ice as desired. Enjoy!

* Keep in a cake tin with a tight-fitting lid, or wrapped in a large sheet of foil, in a cool, dark place. If you use rooibos tea the cake will hold for up to 3 weeks and if you use brandy it will last for up to 3 months.

Helen James

During the festive season, it can be easy to find yourself cooped up in the house for days. Be sure to make an effort to get outside into nature for a brisk walk to re-charge and clear the head, especially if you have kids in the house. Pick a crisp clear day, throw your favourite cheese and some Christmas cake into a bag and have a spontaneous picnic. The time outside will energise you.

Let me know if you make this and how you get on #consideredbyhj

Considered by Helen James is available at selected stores

Products used: Xmas Dot 2pk Tea Towel3594106 Xmas Dot Apron3594108 Xmas Dot 2pk Napkins3594109 Sense of Home Book3562109