Old english fruitcake 3 1800

Ann Creber's - Mother-In-Law Christmas Cake


by Ann Creber

Most years Christmas seems to creep up on us... this year it has rushed in like a tsunami! Or is that just my imagination? Either way, it is certainly time to make that Christmas cake which needs time to mature for Christmas.

I promised to share the story behind the name of this cake, which is how it was described by my Nanna. Her Scottish mother-in-law was very fond of a drop of whisky and when Christmas cake making time came she bought a bottle of whiskey, ostensibly to use in the cake!

However, as the baking session proceeded Mammy enjoyed a considerably more generous share than the cake and the daughters-in-law soon learned they needed to stand by to take over to complete the baking procedure!


  • 360g butter
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 6 free-range eggs, beaten
  • Few drops vanilla, almond and coffee essence
  • 6 TB whisky, sherry or brandy
  • Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
  • Grated rind 1/2 orange
  • 180g glace cherries, chopped
  • 90g skinned almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 125g coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 425g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spices
  • 500g currants
  • 425g sultanas
  • 250g raisins
  • 30g mixed peel
  • Additional whisky or sherry


  1. Line a large, deep cake tin with brown paper, then a layer of greaseproof paper. Place a strip of brown paper around inside, then greaseproof.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs in small portions, beating well after each addition.
  3. Beat in essences, spirits, rind, chopped cherries and nuts.
  4. Sift the flour with the spices. Fold half the flour and half the fruit mixture into the mixture. Add remaining flour and fruit, mix well using wooden spoon or hands.
  5. Spoon into tin and smooth the surface.
  6. Bake in a 150C (slow) oven for about 2 1/2 - 3 hours. If top browns too quickly, cover tin lightly with paper.
  7. Test with a skewer to ensure cake is cooked through. Remove cake from oven, leave to cool completely. When cold, make several holes in the cake using a skewer, drizzle in additional whisky, sherry or brandy.

NOTE I always tie an additional brown paper strip around the outside of The cake tin during baking time.

This cake keeps for months ... drizzle a little spirit on the surface from time to time.

(For years I used to bake stacks of these cakes in 500gr tins to sell at the Yering Station Farmers' Market and for gourmet food outlets and couldn't keep up with demands!)

Ann Creber
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