If you need a smaller cake at Christmas, or if you want to give a cake as a gift, try an Easy Christmas Loaf Cake. Quick and easy to make using the all-in-one method, and using cake ingredients you have, these cakes will be much appreciated by anyone who receives one.
I started making these cakes at Christmas for the Grandmas in our family, who both live alone and love a piece of cake. A large cake goes stale before they've eaten it, so this is the perfect size.
The recipe is based on my Everyday Fruit Cake and can be made the day you want to eat it (or give it) or make in advance and freeze cakes before icing.
How to decorate a Christmas Loaf Cake
- Brush the top of the cake with warmed apricot jam or marmalade (remove any pieces of fruit).
- Roll the marzipan into a sausage. Flatten and place between two sheets of clingfilm with the spacers either side
- Keep the rolling pin on the spacers so the marzipan is the same depth throughout.
- Invert the cake onto the marzipan and cut to fit.
- Peel off the clingfilm to get a smooth surface.
- Roll out the fondant icing to roughly the right size. Brush the top of the cake with more jam, or water
- Invert the cake onto the icing and cut to size
- Cut out small stars from leftover marzipan.
- Position the stars and tie a ribbon round the cake to finish.
Substitutions and special diets
Make a gluten-free Christmas Loaf Cake
- Use gluten-free SR flour, adding a teaspoon of baking powder (ideally ¾ teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum). Make sure your baking powder is GF - some have flour in
- Use twice as much milk, as GF flour tends to absorb more moisture. Alternatively, use duck eggs instead of hen's instead of the extra milk (they're bigger and the larger yolk helps to bind the mixture)
Make a vegan Christmas Loaf Cake
- Butter: Use block margarine instead of butter. I especially like Flora Plant Butter, it comes in salted and unsalted versions. TBH, I always use salted unless it's unavailable - but make sure it's block, NOT spreadable
- Milk: Use whichever plant-based milk you prefer.
- Egg: Use 125ml mashed banana (about ½ banana) per egg OR
- Use 125ml unsweetened applesauce per egg.
- To make applesauce, peel, core and slice 1 kg apples and cook with 100ml water for 15-20 minutes until soft. Puree in a food processor or sieve. You can freeze the excess.
Variations - make it your own
- Dried fruit - Use any combination of fruit and nuts that you like or have
- Spice - I use a traditional mixed spice, but any spice you like is fine - or use orange extract or zest if you don't like or want spice
- Marinade the fruit - The alcohol will burn off, but if you don't want it, soak the fruit in juice or cold/warm tea (no milk)
- Jam - Use what you have. I started by using up homemade, overcooked, strawberry jam. Honey or treacle are equally good
- Icing - Use royal icing if you prefer.
Whatever method you use to make the cake, stir the fruit in by hand. It only takes a minute but then you won't chop it up into small pieces.
Storing and freezing a Christmas Loaf Cake
Store in a plastic box, in the fridge if you have room.
You can freeze the cake(s) before adding marzipan and icing. Wrap in foil, or beeswax wrap, and freeze for up to a month.
Why is my cake dry?
If your cakes turn out dry, check out my article Why Is My Cake Dry? for some of the most common reasons and the solutions.
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Easy Christmas Loaf Cakes
- 400 g mixed dried fruit (see note)
- 4 tablespoons brandy or orange juice
- 125 g butter at room temperature (see note)
- 3 large eggs
- 60 ml milk, (4 tablespoons)
- 1 rounded tablespoon jam (any flavour)
- 125 g soft brown sugar (dark or light - see note)
- 250 g self-raising flour (see note)
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice (10ml)
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/ 150°C fan/ gas mark 3/ 325°F
- Either grease the tin with butter or just pop the liner in
- 'Revive' the dried fruit:Put the fruit in a bowl with the brandy or fruit juice. Heat in the microwave on MEDIUM for 3 minutes in total, stirring once or twice. Heat on HIGH for 30 seconds. Leave to stand for 30 minutes if possible.Otherwise, cover the fruit and leave for a couple of hours, preferably overnight4 tablespoons brandy or orange juice, 400 g mixed dried fruit
For the Christmas Loaf Cakes:
- Put all the ingredients except the fruit into a large bowl (or your mixer/food processor).125 g butter at room temperature, 3 large eggs, 60 ml milk,, 1 rounded tablespoon jam (any flavour), 125 g soft brown sugar, 250 g self-raising flour, 2 teaspoons mixed spice
- Beat together well, but don't overdo it
- Scrape the mixture down and mix again
- Add the dried fruit and stir in by hand. You don't want to break up the fruit400 g mixed dried fruit
- Carefully put the mixture in the tin/liner and use a knife to make a slight depression in the top of the mixture. This means you will have less of a domed top
- Cook for 50 minutes, and test with a toothpick. When it comes out clean the cake is done. If not, return to the oven for 10 minutes and repeat. You may need up to 1 hour 10 mins
- Take the cake out of the oven and leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool
- When completely cool, decorate or store in the fridge or freezer. (You can leave the liner on until the cake is ready to be decorated)
To decorate the cakes:
- Remove the liner.Brush the top of the cake with warmed apricot jam or marmalade, removing any pieces of fruitapricot jam or marmalade
- Roll the marzipan into a sausage and flatten with your hand. Make it a little longer than the cake.Flatten and place between two sheets of clingfilm with the spacers either sideRoll out the marzipan keeping the rolling pin on the spacers you get an even depth400 g marzipan
- Invert the cake onto the marzipan and cut to fit. Turn the cake right side up and peel off the clingfilm for a smooth surface.
- Roll out the fondant icing to roughly the right size. Brush the top of the marzipanned cake with more jam, or waterInvert the cake onto the icing and cut to size500 g pack of fondant icing
- Cut out small stars from leftover marzipan and place on the cake.Tie a bow around the cake.
Everyday Cooks Tips:Ingredients:
- Dried fruit: Use any mixture that you like. Either a ready mix, or whatever you have or like. I put cherries in mine and I don't wash them for this recipe. Just cut in half. If you like nuts add 50g of flaked almonds and 350g fruit
- Butter: If it's cold, heat in the microwave for 30 sec on LOW. Repeat if necessary. Don't melt it
- Brown sugar: Dark or light is fine. I prefer light in this recipe as dark brown sugar has a stronger flavour
- Flour: If you don't have self-raising flour, use plain flour and add 2 teaspoons of baking powder.