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Alternative Christmas Cake Ideas #DIYXMAS

After three months of waiting and nurturing, tucking into lovingly homemade Christmas cake can be very rewarding! However, with just over a month to go until Christmas day, you may feel you have missed the boat and run out of time to start making your Christmas cake…or have you?

I thought I would bring together some ideas for you to use this Christmas whether you are making a traditional Christmas cake, or a tasty alternative!

1 Month Christmas Cake Recipes

Halloween, done. Bonfire night, done. Christmas cake…argh! Not done! Don’t panic and settle for shop bought Christmas cake on the big day. Most Classic Christmas Cake recipesadvise you to start making your cake 2-3 months in advance. However if you only have 1 month left, these recipes can still make delicious festive cakes. The more you “feed” your cake with brandy (or your chosen alcohol), the stronger it will be, so if you are not a fan of a strong tasting Christmas cake, only feeding it for 1 month might be a better option for you anyway!

christmas cake cooled ready to be fed with brandy

Photo by Elaine Lemm, contributing author on

fruit and nut topping for Christmas cakeOnce you have made your cake and fed it for as long as you can, leave it for a week so the top of the cake can dry, and then you can start adding delicious layers of marzipan and icing before topping with a classic Christmas cake decorations!

If you are not a fan of mountains of icing, then why not consider the lighter alternative of a fruit and nut topping like this Jamie Oliver recipe or this Jewelled fruit, nut and seed cake(pictured to the left)?

Photo by BBC Good Food

Chocolate Christmas Cake Recipes

As beautiful as it is, Christmas cake can be an acquired taste meaning that despite the hard labour you pour into making your cake, there is no guarantee it will be gobbled up by the family. If Christmas cake is not a popular choice in your home, then there are many varying alternatives you can make that are equally as festive! Not only will it put big smiles on your family’s faces, with no pressure to make your cake early, it gives you a bit more time to decide what cake you would like to do.

Chocolate Christmas cakes can be a great way to enjoy traditional fruit cake with the added sweetness of chocolate. There is no need to feed these cakes with alcohol over time, but as they still include alcohol in the recipe, the Christmas taste is still present enough to warm the taste buds! Nigella Lawson has a great chocolate fruit cake recipe which includes the added citrus taste of oranges, delicious. What’s more! Wrap these cakes up in baking paper and store in an air tight container and they will keep for a couple of months, just like traditional fruit cake.

If fruit cake is a simple no go in your home, then most classic chocolate sponge cake and frosting recipes will do the trick…let’s face it, it’s all about the decorations! Why not team up with your little ones and make a chocolate cake log together?

If you are really running low on time, you can even pick up a plain chocolate cake roll, make up some chocolate frosting and just have some fun decorating your chocolate masterpiece with the kids!

Photo by BBC Good Food

Preloved’s Chocolate Christmas Cake Attempt

I am not the best in the kitchen, so the thought of creating a delicious Christmas cake is quite daunting – turns out I needn’t have worried! To show you how simple it can be to create your own Christmas cake this year, I thought I would give it a go. Using a Chocolate Christmas cake recipe on BBC Good Food for guidance, creating a festive cake was a lot simpler then I first thought – in fact the hardest bit was finding all the ingredients in the heaving supermarkets on a Saturday afternoon!

slice of Preloved chocolate christmas cake

Chocolate Christmas Cake Recipe

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g dark brown soft sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate (I used 80%)
  • 75ml Tia Maria (the original recipe uses brandy, but I decided to use what I had in the house to save money)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 600g mixed dried vine fruit and mixed peel (you can buy these already mixed from most supermarkets, or alternatively you will need 250g sultanas, 250g raisins and 100g mixed peel)
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 100g glacier cherries (the original recipe dried sour cherries, but these were all I could find and the cake is still delicious)
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 3 eggs

I recommend using a deep cake tin if you have one to hand (round 20 cm) to get good height on your cake. I used a 25cm round tin. As well as your tin and various other pieces on baking equipment (mixing bowls, spoons, scales), to make your cake you will also need the following:

  • greaseproof baking paper
  • newspaper or brown paper
  • string
  • scissors (to cut paper)
  • large saucepan
  • butter for lining your tin

method for making chocolate christmas cake

The method in 5 steps:

Step 1: First throw the butter, chocolate, alcohol, sugar, vanilla extract and fruit into a saucepan and heat through on the hob until it has all melted. Once melted, take the pan off the heat and put to one side to cool.

Step 2: Preheat your oven to 150C (conventional oven) / 130C (fan oven) / gas mark 2

Step 3: Now it’s time to prepare your baking tin! Check out this video on how to line a baking tin which you may find helpful. Line your tin with two layers of baking paper and surround your tin with a few layers of newspaper or brown paper, securing in place with string. As you will have to cook your cake for a long period of time, wrapping your baking tin with newspaper protects your cake mixture from cooking too quickly and burning.

Step 4: The oven is hot and the tin is ready, now all you have to do is combine the remaining ingredients! First, get your mixing bowl and mix together the flour, ground almonds, mixed spice and cocoa and leave to one side. Beat up the eggs in a smaller bowl before mixing with your chocolate fruit mixture (which would have cooled by now) in the saucepan. Lastly, mix in the flour mixture into the saucepan and mix well.

Step 5: Scrap the cake mixture into your prepared tin and pop it into the oven. The cake will take between 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes to cook. Check it is cooked by putting in a skewer or knife into the middle and checking it comes out clean. Once cooked, leave to cool!

There you have it! A chocolate Christmas cake that can be made mere days before the big day. Festive enough to meet the demands of the traditional family members, whilst having a little chocolate edge to sweeten it for those who who don’t like traditional Christmas cake.

Preloved Chocolate Christmas cake

You can decorate your cake any way you like. I decided to keep it simple by adding some left over glacier cherries and holly leaves (washed thoroughly) before sprinkling with icing sugar. Warmed up with a dollop cream or creme fraiche, this will go down a treat with my family this Christmas…how about yours?

Got an alternative Christmas cake recipe of your own? We would love to see it! Please share on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #DIYXmas!

Justine Dench

Justine Dench

Creative Editor

Justine Dench is the creative editor for Preloved. Her key personal interests include sustainability, conservation and animal welfare. Justine also has interests in photography, music, gardening and home interiors.