Buck & Birch Aelder Christmas cake

If you're organised, or brave enough, to bake your own Christmas cake but would like to take it to the next level and wow your friends and family, why not try either of our tried and true recipes below?

For a quick Christmas show topper made last minute 


  • 600g good-quality mixed dried fruits

  • 150ml Aelder
  • 150g stem ginger, drained, plus 8 tbsp ginger syrup from the jar
  • 200g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 200g soft light brown sugar
  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Finely grated zest of 2 small oranges and 2 lemons
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 150g whole glacé cherries

 For decoration 

  • 4 tbsp shredless orange marmalade
  • 500g white marzipan

  • Icing sugar, for dusting
  • 500g white fondant icing


  • Put the dried fruits in a bowl and pour over the Aelder. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the fruit to plump up.
  • Blend the ginger and its syrup until finely chopped. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3. Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and mixed spice into a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, except the cherries. Beat with a hand-held electric whisk for 2 minutes until pale and fluffy. Fold in the soaked dried fruits and any Aelder, the whizzed ginger and the cherries.
  • Spoon into the tin and level off. Bake for 1½-1¾ hours until firm and golden brown. Cover loosely with foil after 1 hour if it is darkening too much. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.
  • To decorate, remove a thin slice from all sides of the cake and discard. Cut the cake in half to make 2 rectangles. In a small pan over a low heat, warm the marmalade with 2 tbsp of water. Keep warm. Knead half the marzipan until smooth, then roll out, on a work surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, into a 22cm x 20cm rectangle. Trim the edges. Brush the top and the 2 long sides of one cake with half the warm marmalade mix, then lay the marzipan over the cake and press it on firmly.
  • Repeat with the second cake and remaining marzipan. Cover the cakes with the icing in the same way, but stick the icing on by brushing the marzipan with freshly boiled water. Trim the edges neatly and add any extra decorations you like.

Or for a more traditional Christmas Cake recipe to start today why not try;


  • 1kg good-quality mixed dried fruit 

  • 150ml Aelder, plus extra for feeding
  • zest and juice 2 oranges, 2 lemons or 4 clementines
  • 250g pack unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for the tin
  • 250g light, soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g whole or flaked almonds, chopped hazelnuts, walnuts or brazil nuts (optional)


  • Put your chosen dried fruit mixture into a large bowl with the Aelder, citrus zest and juice. Mix well, cover and leave overnight.
  • Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Butter and double-line a deep cake tin – 20cm round or 18cm square – with enough baking parchment to come about 2.5cm above the top of the tin. Wrap the outside of the tin with a few sheets of newspaper, securing with staples or string.
  • Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy, then beat in the eggs one by one. Tip in the flour, mixed spice, soaked dried fruit and any liquid from the bowl, plus your chosen nuts, if using. Stir everything together, then scrape into the cake tin. Using the back of your spoon, make a slight dent in the centre of the mixture, then bake for 1½ hrs.
  • Reduce oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1, loosely cover the top of the cake with a double sheet of foil or baking parchment, and bake for another 2 ½ - 3 hrs or until a skewer poked right to the bottom comes out clean. Cool in the tin, then lift out and wrap in greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Keep in a cake tin with a tight-fitting lid, or wrapped in a large sheet of foil, in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. Open the cake every week or two to feed by poking with a skewer in several places and dribbling over a little more Aelder.