Dermot O'Neill develops an original recipe of his Grandmother's to create this Christmas cake for RTÉ Radio's Mooney.


  • fruit:
  • 300 g tart dried cherries
  • 250 g agen prunes
  • 100 g dried apricots (unsulphured)
  • 100 g fresh dates
  • 150 g dried cranberries (ocean spray)
  • 100 g jumbo golden sultanas
  • 100 g dried figs
  • 100 g candied pear
  • zest of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1tbsp rich dark marmalade
  • alcohol:
  • 3 tblsp cherry brandy
  • 3 tblsp cointreau
  • 3 tblsp black rum
  • 3 tblsp lustau san emilo pedro ximénez sherry
  • nuts:
  • 50 g brazil
  • 25 g pecan
  • 25 g macadamia
  • spices:
  • 50 g crystal ginger
  • 1 bourbon vanilla pod
  • 1.5 tsp mixed spice (made up of cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg, ginger)
  • 0.5 tsp ground cardamom
  • 0.25 tsp mace
  • cake mix:
  • 400 g butter (glenilen farm, cork)
  • 350 g light muscovado
  • 50 g dark muscovado
  • 4 free-range duck eggs (or 6 large organic chicken eggs)
  • 400 g plain cream flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 200 g ground almonds
  • 1 tblsp black treacle


  • Take a 10-inch, high-sided baking tin. Line with several layers of greaseproof paper and wrap the tin with several layers of brown paper, which should come up to double the height of the tin. Tie this in place using string.
  • Weigh out all the fruit, chopping the larger fruits into smaller pieces. Also add the zests at this point along with 1tbsp of rich, dark marmalade. Split the vanilla pod and add to the mix. Add the alcohol mix and leave to soak for a minimum of 24 hours, stirring occasionally. After soaking remove the vanilla pod.
  • Chop the pecan and Brazil nuts and the crystalised ginger, but leave the Macadamia nuts whole. Add all these to the pre-soaked fruit just prior to baking so they don't go soggy.
  • Put the butter and sugars into a large bowl and cream together until light in colour and fluffy in texture. This is very important and best done with an electric whisk. Sift all the dry ingredients together.
  • Lightly whip the eggs. Add the eggs, little by little, to the creamed butter mixture, beating each addition in thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients and ground almonds to the creamed mixture, and fold in.
  • Add the pre-soaked fruit mix (which now contains the nuts) to the creamed mixture. Fold in, making sure to mix thoroughly. At this point you should be working quickly. Fold in the treacle now, making sure it is thoroughly mixed.
  • Spoon the cake mix into the lined tin and spread evenly, creating a shallow hollow in the centre.
  • Bake at 140°C (Gas 1 / 275°F) for five hours.
  • Before removing the cake from the oven, check that it is cooked in the centre – an inserted skewer should come out clean. Allow to cool in the tin on a wire rack. Decorate as you choose with marzipan, icing or dried fruits.

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