Fiona Lowe – Lal’s Christmas Cake Circa 1900

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It’s that time of year! We will be posting one holiday recipe a day for the month of November from our Carina Press authors and editors!

Fiona Lowe – Lal’s Christmas Cake Circa 1900

This cake is a tradition in my family only improved by me having a serious car accident. You see, I’d cut up the fruit and had it soaking for the three days as the recipe said. Then I fractured my ribs, my left arm, got concussion and was pretty much out of action for six weeks. My mother kindly offered to ‘bake the cake’ when she had time. It took her a month to get to it.  That year my Christmas cake was the MOST divine cake we’d ever had because the fruit had soaked in the spirits for a month! So now on Melbourne Cup Day weekend (early November), I soak the fruit and I make the cake early December. But you don’t need to soak the fruit that long if you don’t have time. I do hope someone makes this cake cos it took me some time to convert it to ‘US recipe speak’.  I recall that when I lived there, no one had kitchen scales and you do it all by cups. Many thanks to for the conversion charts!- Fiona Lowe



1/2 pound of currants (1.5 cups)

2oz of cherries (1/4 cup)

1/2 pound of sultanas

4oz of dates (2/3 cup)

1/2 pound of raisins

2oz of almonds (1/4 cup)

2oz of mixed peel (1/4 cup)


Cut up all of the above and place in a large bowl.  Add to the fruit

*0.9 fluid ounce/25mls of vanilla essence

*1/3 cup of Brandy

*0.9 fluid ounce 25mls of lemon essence

*1/3 cup of Whisky

*1/3 cup of Rum

Soak the fruit in the spirits and essences for a minimum of a week (ideally three weeks) in a covered container.  Shake every day.  The longer you soak the fruit the tastier the cake.  I have soaked it as long as 4 weeks, but 2 weeks is fine



1/2 pound of butter  (2 sticks)

1/2  pound of sugar (2/3cup)

5 eggs

10 oz of plain flour (2.5 cups)

1 teaspoon of mixed spice and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg

Cream the butter and sugar until creamy.  Add the eggs separately beating well between each one.  Add the fruit gradually alternating with the flour.

Preheat the oven at 325 F.  Place the cake in oven for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven to 275 F and bake for another 3 – 4 hours.

*****This recipe can be divided evenly into 6 little tins e.g. washed and clean tuna tins and make 6 individual Christmas cakes.  They take about 1 hour to cook.  You can decorate with almonds or fondant icing.  They make great gifts for people who don’t bake.

Fiona Lowe is the author of the RITA award-winning Boomerang Bride, available now from Carina Press!

2 thoughts on “Fiona Lowe – Lal’s Christmas Cake Circa 1900”

  1. This looks great, Fiona! I’m gonna do it! I think I’ll set it up next weekend.

  2. Sarah G says:

    I have already made my cakes this year but I like this recipe and will try to remember to make it next year. And thanks for the conversions.

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