Cakes · Uncategorized

The ‘old ladies’ Christmas Cake

My granny Margaret, nicknamed the ‘old lady’ by her very own children, had purple hair, a mole on her chin with a hair growing out of it, 12 children (seriously) and a gazillion grandchildren…..I was her favourite of course.

Although I loved my granny I honestly never knew her and although we spent a lot of time together, she was the kind of granny you just never got to know. I think it was because she was a real lady and back then, grannies didn’t do ‘bonding sessions’ with their granddaughters.

A bonding sessions involved a walk into town, to the fancy department store Stuttafords to buy a dress for your birthday and I hated dresses and then for a green milkshake with sprinkles ontop….I loved that!

I also love condensed milk because of my granny. There was always an opened tin of condensed milk and a packet of Marie biscuits for tea. There was also a cupboard dedicated to tin food from baked beans to pie apples,  each tin labelled & dated……very  dooms day prepper –ish.

Our annual dinner at the ‘old ladies’ was fraught with terror as we were scrubbed, de sanitized and schooled in the art of good manners days before the big event but the true terror lay in the menu………………….oxtail………………… you have any idea, how scary it is, for a kid to realise you’……………………’s very scary………… and we endured it for 18 years…..the menu NEVER EVER changed.

And every Sunday was the same, granny Margaret would come over for Sunday lunch and bring her famous apple tart …………this we all LOVED until one day she greased the pan with Doom (insect repellent) instead of Spray & Cook and no one said a word. Or the time she baked the apple tart with a bread knife in……………………gospel story.

The old lady was also famous for:

Cheating at cards: She would get up from the card table and we’d find half the pack between her ‘cheeks’ or under the table.

Loud rumbling flatulents (farts) that went on for days while she appeared completely oblivious to the noise coming from her rear end.

Plucking for pennies was our extra mural activity after school. We earned pennies for plucking facial hair from her chin.

But what granny Margaret was truly famous for, was her legendary Christmas cakes. They were rich, moist, oozing of brandy and utterly delicious. As a kid I hated Christmas cake because of the smell of brandy but loved the fact, that her cakes were scattered with pennies, silver pennies that could buy you plenty of sweets & chips.

I’ve obviously grown to love Christmas cake and look forward each year to making my own and I always think fondly on my quirky grandmother.

So please give this recipe a try. It’s a real winner and very forgiving.

You are also welcome to ice it with fondant (plastic icing) or glaze it with apricot jam, pecan nuts and cherries but we like it plain with pennies.

Inserting pennies/money. Boil the pennies for 5 min to clean them and then insert them into the uncooked cake mix just before you pop it into the oven

Christmas Cake

  • Ingredients20161116_073350970_ios
  • 3x cups ­{600g}of mixed fruit mix
  • 200g glaced cherries
  • 250g chopped dates
  • 125ml chopped almonds
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 125g butter cubed
  • 5ml bicarb
  • 2 cups flour
  • 10ml baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 10ml mixed spice
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 100ml brandy


  1. Put the fruit mix, butter, sugar, dates, almonds, cherries and water in a potwith a fitted lid and let the mixture boil gently for 25min. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.20161116_074833613_ios
  2. Remove from the stove and leave until lukewarm.
  3. Grease an 8”/20cm round deep cake tin. Line it with 2 layers of brown paper and 2x layers of greaseproof paper, around the sides & the bottom of the cake tin
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
  5. Add the 5ml bicarb to the cooled fruit mix and stir. Then add the sifted flour mixture with the lightly beaten egg, to the boiled mixture. Stir thoroughly. If the mixture is too stiff, dilute with a little brandy or water.
  6. Put the mixture into the tin and bake in a slow oven @ 160C for 1 ½ – 2hrs.
  7. After the 1st hour, place a piece of greaseproof paper on top of the cake to prevent it from burning. Continue baking for the remaining 1hr.
  8. Pour the brandy over the cake as it comes out of the oven. Once cooled, cover with cling wrap & foil and store in an airtight container…you’re welcome to pour brandy every so often thereafter. Will keep for 6-8 weeks.
  9. ***Make the effort to prepare the cake tin with all the layers of greaseproof & brown paper as this will prevent the fruit from burning.***
Pic taken without the bottom layers so you can see how I made little notches to make wrapping around the tin easier.  







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