Christmas Cake – The one where Catherine Leyden rang me..

Now that Halloween is out of the way, we can officially mention the “C” word, right? I know a lot of people have already made a start on their Christmas baking, for me this is my first year so I decided to use my mums recipe as I know it’s well tried and tested.  Mum has used the same Christmas cake recipe for over 30 years.  It came from an old Odlums Christmas recipe leaflet that had, over the years, become worn and was falling apart so one year we had the idea that we’d type up the recipe on the computer, print it out and then we’d have it forever and ever. Sounds good so far? Well…

Two years ago, when it was time to take out the Christmas recipes, we found the sheets and discovered that on the Christmas cake recipe, the list of ingredients was missing a rather important item.  Flour.  Now, since I’d never made a Christmas cake before I wasn’t any help in the matter of trying to remember the correct amount and mum thought she knew but just wasn’t sure.  We searched for the scraps of the leaflet (i.e. we pulled mum’s house APART!) but it couldn’t be found.  It was probably thrown out after we’d typed it up as we knew we’d never need it again.  What did we do next? Well, I had a brain wave.  I’d call the Odlums helpline, after all it was their recipe to start with so they’d definitely have a copy of it somewhere wouldn’t they?  So that’s what I did, I spoke to a lovely lady (apologies, but I can’t remember her name) who wasn’t sure either but said she’d check with another lady and give me a ring back.

Within half an hour I got a call back from a mobile number that I didn’t recognise.  “Hello, Catherine Leyden here I believe you had a question about a Christmas cake recipe.” (Not sure if that was the exact wording but it was along those lines.)  Well I was really impressed Catherine Leyden off the telly rang ME!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, Catherine gave us the answer and Christmas was saved. Hurrah!

P.S. Here’s the recipe…


1lb plain flour

1lb sultanas

1lb raisins

1 chopped cooking apple

4 oz Mixed Peel

8 oz Glace Cherries

8 oz chopped almonds

14oz butter or margarine

14oz brown sugar

4oz ground almonds

1 tsp ground nutmeg/1 tsp mixed spice

1 glass whiskey / brandy

8 eggs

¼ tsp salt


Put the dried fruit, chopped almonds in to a large bowl and pour spirits over it and leave to soak (preferably overnight)

Prepare your tins (the recipe says to use 12″ round or 11″ square tin but mum uses a 7″ round and a 9″ round and it works well).  The lovely Like Mam Used To Bake has a really handy way of lining round cake tins, go and have a look.

Chop the apple and add to the rest of the fruit.

Cream the brown sugar and margarine together until light and fluffy then add one egg at a time.

Gently fold in the flour, spices and ground almonds.

Then, gradually add the fruit and mix gently until it is all incorporated.

Pour into your lined cake tins.  Bake in the centre of the oven (which has been preheated to 160°c) for the first 1/2 hour then lower to 150°c.

After the first 1½ hours check the cake and if it is nicely browned cover with a circle of paper – this will stop the cake from getting too brown while the rest of the cake cooks.

Leave to bake for a further 2½ hours.

Test the cake by sticking a metal skewer or knitting needle into the centre.  If it comes out clean with no sticky particles adhering the cake is cooked.  Let the cake cool in the tin.

To store: wrap in greaseproof paper and then put in an airtight tin, or wrap carefully in tin foil sealing the edges so that it is airtight.

NOTE: As you can tell by the pictures, I did *cheat* slightly by using a food mixer.  It was on the lowest setting so everything was mixed gently.  I did a test run and himself said it was lovely (and tasted like Christmas cake funnily enough!)

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6 Responses to Christmas Cake – The one where Catherine Leyden rang me..

  1. TheGlutton says:

    Lovely looking cake there – I don’t eat Christmas cake but I love the smell of it cooking, such amazing aromas. How nice of Catherine Leyden to phone you herself – wonder could I get Nigel Slater to give me a buzz about his macaroni cheese recipe…

  2. Aifs says:

    Gorgeous cake! Pretty sure my mam still uses that exact recipe! I think she’s going to mix it up a la likemamusedtobake with Ginger and walnuts etc!

    Fab blog! I’ll be making notes of some recipes in my new folder!

  3. Pingback: Foodie Roundup #3 - Irish Food Blogs Recap | Any Given Food | A Food Blog by Ken McGuire

  4. Bridget Murray says:

    I wonder was recipe above the cake recipe that I picked up in Dunnes Stores Athlone<Ireland last year.
    I made the cake and it was just delicious and not too dark.
    I misplaced the recipe.
    I am really wondering is the recipe above not dark.
    thanking you
    Bridget Murray

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