The Master Patissier and Cakeboy shares his recipe for Christmas cake, packed with dried fruit, roasted nuts and French brandy.

Eric Lanlard, master patissier, has earned himself an international reputation for superlative cakes with an impressive A-list clientele and a global fan base. His retail emporium in south west London, Cakeboy, sells London's cutest cupcakes and boasts a high tech cookery school. Eric shares his recipe for Christmas cake which feeds eight.

If you’re more of a purist when it comes to your Christmas cake, this recipe is the one for you. It’s packed with dried fruit and roasted nuts, and, of course, delicious French brandy!

Preparation time: overnight soaking,
+ 25 minutes
Cooking time: 3½–4 hours


350g (12oz) golden sultanas
350g (12oz) raisins
¼ bottle brandy
350g (12oz) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
200g (7oz) good-quality dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
200g (7oz) dark soft brown sugar
100g (3 ½ oz) molasses sugar
4 large eggs
300g (11oz) plain flour, sifted
2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
finely grated rind and juice of 3 lemons
150g (5oz) chopped mixed peel
100g (3½oz) glacé cherries
50g (2oz) walnut halves
50g (2oz) shelled whole hazelnuts, roasted


1. Soak the sultanas and raisins in about 150ml (5fl oz) of the brandy in a covered bowl overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 150ºC(fan 130ºC)/300ºF/gas mark 2. Grease a 20cm (8in) diameter deep cake tin with extra butter and doubleline the base and sides with enough baking paper that the paper stands a little above the sides of the tin.

3. Put the chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl that fits over a pan of gently simmering water (the base must not touch the water), and stir until it melts. Leave to cool slightly.

4. In the bowl of your blender/processor, using the power beater attachment, cream the measured butter and the sugars together at high speed, until the mixture is light, pale and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and then the eggs, mixing them in at a slower speed. (Add a little flour if the mixture looks like it may split.) Scrape down the sides occasionally, and mix until everything is incorporated and well blended.

5. Sift on the flour and spices, followed by another 150ml (5fl oz) of the brandy along with the lemon rind and juice. Mix together well then stir in the fruit and nuts gently, without breaking the cherries or walnuts.

6. When combined well, spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface. Cover the top with a disc of baking paper and bake in the preheated oven for 3½–4 hours or until a thin-bladed knife inserted comes out clean.

7. Let the cake cool down in the tin, and then turn it out on to a wire rack. Peel off the lining paper and pour on some more brandy (there will be a bit left in the bottle) while still warm. When cold, add some more brandy to taste, then wrap in clingfilm and store in a cool dry place until ready to be decorated in time for Christmas.

8. This cake can be stored in an airtight tin for up to six months – but make sure you feed it regularly with brandy.

November 2011

Taken from Home Bake published by Mitchell Beazley.
Copyright (c) Octopus Publishing Group Ltd 2010
Text copyright (c) Eric Lanlard 2010
Photography (c) Craig Robertson 2010