There is nothing quite like the smell of an extra spicy fruit cake baking in the oven, however, the Queen of them all is the old English style Christmas Cake. In essence, it’s a deeply rich fruit mixture heavy on the fruit and steeped in rum or brandy. Thick and dense, it bakes for up to four hours on a low heat, which is a nice long time for the smell to permeate the house. We love it.


I come from a family of British immigrants to New Zealand, and despite the fact we have summer in the festive season, my parents continued the tradition of the “Christmas Cake.” I have raised my boys with our own version of the family tradition. At the end of November, my kids and I don our aprons and head into the kitchen for the labour of love.


I think the secret to a good result is in soaking the fruit in orange juice and rum or brandy overnight. In the old English style, the ratio of dried fruit to flour is about four to one. Typically, there will be raisins, currants, sultanas and chopped dates. Most recipes call for glace cherries and crystallised ginger, but, as I’m not fond of these ingredients, I like to add chopped dried apricots and figs and extra blanched almonds.


This year, my boys and I came up with a fun idea for a crafty gift. We only used half the batter for the traditional rectangular cake, which will be iced closer to Christmas with brandy butter icing.


The other half of the batter, we fashioned into rough balls and baked in muffin tins. In this form, they take half the time, roughly two to two and a half hours at a low heat. They form a nice firm ball. Once cool, we dusted them lightly with sifted icing sugar.


We wrapped the individual balls in baking paper, making neat little parcels with cotton gift ties.


I had been collecting gift boxes and tins from the thrift stores the last few weeks. We wrapped the paper parcels in cellophane wrap to ensure they will stay fresh as long as possible and divided the balls between the tins and boxes.


We wrote a personalised message on a gift tag inside each lid.


We tied a ribbon on each box and there you have it, our Christmas Cake Balls as a gift you can make with your kids and give away at this year.


Do you make your own gifts or have your own crafting traditions at this time of year? If so, let us know!


Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol


It is never too late to start enjoying a happy childhood. ~ Joy Cowley


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  1. ChrysFey says:

    This look yummy and fun to make. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    What a great idea to make the smaller Christmas cake balls! Very special gifts. I love that your boys got in on the act and that you’ve carried on the tradition. I haven’t made any gifts this year. I’m so not ready for Christmas! Last year I did make some gifts, decorated notebooks with fabric, gorgeous photos from calendars, ribbon, stickers, jewelry, and other embellishments. No extra time this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      I was very mindful to try the end result and make sure the Christmas cake balls tasted as good as they looked. They were divine. Isn’t it great when an experimental idea works out!
      Thanks for stopping by, Lynnie. Yes, I know what you mean about the time factor. I hope you’re enjoying the fruits of the season, regardless 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is how my mother used to make Christmas cake. I remember my dad laughing because sometimes the cake had more rum than usual. Thank you for reminding me of that. We spend our Christmas in Bucerias without an oven, so our Christmas dinner is at relatives’ or friends’. We have a very traditional dinner, and the best part, we get plates of food to take home. During the years of raising 5 boys, I so enjoyed doing all those special dishes. Today, I’m a little more relaxed and let the next generation astonish me with their cooking skills. One day you’ll experience that joy. It’s another wonderful stage in small circle we call life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      That’s funny you say that, Joylene, because we used to laugh in our family, saying the brandy butter mum used to make was more brandy than butter! Maybe that’s why my favourite cocktail to this day is the Brandy Alexander! 😀
      I’m still in the thick of raising the boys, but the youngest is a tween now so the horizon is in sight. Every stage of the circle is wonderful, isn’t it. The eldest is expecting his first child and is engaged now, so a full cycle seems to be turning.
      Your relaxed Xmas dinner sounds great and you’ve earned it, being momma to five boys!
      I wish you a joyous Christmas with your family, my friend. 🙂


  4. Nick Wilford says:

    That sounds like a great gift idea that I’m sure your friends appreciate! I haven’t tasted a better Christmas cake than my wife’s. Homemade is always best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      I agree homemade’s always best! The good thing about Christmas cake is a lot of people don’t like to eat it, so there’s plenty to enjoy over the entire festive period! Cheers, Nick 🙂


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