Rachel Allen's Christmas Cake with Toasted Almond Paste

What better time is there to dig in and cook the perfect Christmas Cake for the perfect family Christmas? And it just happens that Rachel Allen has the perfect rustic recipe.

07 Oct 2014

Now that summer is well and truly over, it's time to think ahead to...Christmas! Yes it's nearly here again and what better way to kick off the festive season than this stunning Christmas cake recipe, courtesy of Rachel Allen.


  • 150g (5 oz) sultanas
  • 150g (5 oz) raisins
  • 110g (4 oz) chopped dried cranberries
  • 110g (4 oz) chopped candied peel
  • 110g (4 oz) chopped dates
  • 110g (4 oz) chopped dried apricots
  • 50g (2 oz) finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) brandy or whiskey
  • 275g (10 oz) butter, softened
  • 275g (10 oz) light muscovado or soft light brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • Rind from 1 orange, finely grated
  • 50g (2 oz) ground almonds
  • 275g (10 oz) flour
  • 2 tsp mixed spice

For the Almond Paste:

  • 450g (1 lb) ground almonds
  • 450g (1 lb) caster sugar
  • 1 large or 2 small eggs
  • 2 tbsp brandy or whiskey
  • A couple of drops of almond essence

To brush on the cake:

  • 1 small egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 egg yolks


  • KitchenAid
  • Mason Cash Heritage 29cm Mixing Bowl  
  • KitchenAid 23cm Non-Stick Cake Tin  
  • Kitchen Craft Master Class 18cm non-stick cake tin 
  • Tala flat edge cake smoother
  • Rolling pin
  • Silicone pastry brush  
  • Shaped cake cutters ( star / angel / Christmas tree)
  • Kitchen Craft 39 x 27cm Non-stick Baking Tray   
  • Greaseproof paper


  • Preheat the oven to 150C/135C fan / 300F / gas mark 2
  • Place the sultanas, raisins, dried cranberries, chopped candied peel, dates and dried apricots, and the crystallized ginger in a bowl. Pour on the whiskey or brandy and allow to soak for at least 2 hours
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter very well. Add in the sugar and beat well, and then beat in the eggs one by one. Stir in the grated orange zest and ground almonds
  • Sift in the flour and spices and fold in gently, followed by the fruit and any alcohol (or orange juice) left in the bowl
  • Transfer into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 2½ to 3¼ hours but keep an eye on it from 2½ hours onwards. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake will come out clean when the cake is cooked
  • Pour another tablespoon or two of whiskey or brandy over the top of the cake, as soon as it comes out of the oven. Cover the cake, still in the tin, with tin foil. This will keep the top of the cake nice and soft whilst it is cooling
  • Once the cake has cooled, remove it from the tin and cover again in tin foil until you are ready to cover it with almond paste


To make the almond paste:

  • Preheat the oven to 220'C / 425F / gas mark 7
  • Mix the ground almonds and sugar together in a bowl. In another bowl beat the eggs, add the brandy or whiskey and the couple of drops of almond essence, then add to the dry ingredients and mix to a stiff paste
  • Sprinkle the worktop with icing sugar, turn out the almond paste and work lightly until smooth
  • Remove all tin foil and greaseproof paper from the cake. Take about half of the almond paste and place it on the worktop that has been dusted with icing sugar. Roll until it is about 1cm / 1/2 inch thick
  • Paint the top of the cake with the lightly-beaten egg white and put the cake, sticky side down, onto the almond paste. Cut around the edge of the cake, then carefully turn the cake the right side up with the lid of almond paste attached to the top
  • Measure the circumference and height of the cake. Roll out 2 long strips of almond paste (to length of the circumference) and trim both edges to the height of the cake with a palette knife. Paint both the cake and the almond paste lightly with egg white. Press the strip against the sides of the cake: do not overlap or there will be a bulge. Use a straight-sided water glass to even the edges and smooth the join. Rub the cake well with your hand to ensure a nice flat surface
  • At this stage, place the cake on a baking tray. Roll out the remainder of the almond paste approx. 1/4 inch / 5mm thick, and cut out star, heart , holly or Santa  shapes
  • Paint the whole surface of the cake with some beaten egg yolk and stick the shapes on top and around the sides. Brush the shapes with egg yolk
  • Bake the cake in the centre of a preheated oven for 10-20 minutes until lovely and golden. Remove from the oven, allow to cool then transfer to a plate


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