Ginger and Rum Christmas Cake

Mercy Fenton has put a twist on her mother's Christmas cake - and had a few little hands to help decorate it!
Ginger and Rum Christmas Cake
Ginger and Rum Christmas Cake by Mercy Fenton.Picture; Larry Cummins

I’d decided a long time ago that I didn’t like Christmas cake. I was then reliably informed that my mother’s version is delicious. Well, I couldn’t argue without trying it and discovered this to be true. So, after enquiring about the recipe, I swapped some ingredients just for a change and added rum instead of brandy or whiskey. I also added crystalized ginger, and I’m delighted with the result. Again, not being a lover of royal icing, I’ve chosen to just use marzipan to decorate. I was surprised when the kids took over that job so I let them at it. They had great fun discovering they loved sculpting with the marzipan. I’d definitely recommend letting you kids or your inner kid finish this, as once they get started the Christmas imagination kicks in. I one had the best fun making this, it definitely created a Christmas memory. 

Ginger and Rum Christmas Cake


678g (1½lb) sultanas (I substituted 8oz with some dates and apricots I had to use up)

226g (½lb) dark cherries (personal preference)

112g (4 oz) rum

Grated zest of 1 Lemon

226g (8 oz) butter

226g (8 oz) light brown sugar

4 eggs

312g (11 oz) flour

56g (2oz) ground almonds

5g (1 tsp) mixed spice

5g (1 tsp) ground ginger

56g (2 oz) finely diced crystallized ginger


  • 24 hours in advance soak the fruit with the rum.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 170C.
  • Butter the base and sides of a 9inch round deep cake tin.
  • Line the base and sides with double layer of parchment paper.
  • Wrap the outside in a double strip of brown paper and a strip of light cardboard. This can be tied with butcher’s string.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, with the spade attachment beat the butter, lemon zest, crystalized ginger and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Sift together the flour, ground spices and ground almond.
  • Add 2 of the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.
  • Reduce the speed and add 1/3 of the sifted flour, slowly mix in.
  • Add another egg and beat until just incorporated, fold in the next 1/3 of flour and repeat until all the flour is added.
  • Next add the soaked fruit and mix well.
  • Scrape the mix into the prepared tin, spread carefully and evenly. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 150C and continue to cook for another 2 hours, until golden on top and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.


You can make the marzipan if you have time or there are many good quality prepared brands available. I used a purchased white marzipan, which I think looks really Christmassy.


Almond paste

375gr caster sugar

375g ground almonds

180g pasteurized free-range egg

1 tsp almond essence

Almond paste method

  • For the almond paste, place the sugar and ground almonds in a bowl. Add enough beaten egg and mix to a fairly soft consistency.
  • Add the almond essence and knead for one minute until the paste is smooth and pliable.
  • Use a string to measure from the base of the cake up the sides across the centre and down the side again. Cut the string.
  • Knead and roll out the almond paste to make a thin circle the diameter of the string.
  • Brush the top and sides of the cooled cake with boiled apricot jam, top with the round of marzipan; fold the edges down the sides of the cake.
  • Press gently, working from the top, down to the base to create an even smooth covering.
  • Trim the base carefully, reserving any extra marzipan for the decorations.

You can email Mercy Fenton at

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