Gingergirl: Whip up a Christmas cake with a twist

Helen Keown


Helen Keown


Gingergirl: Whip up a Christmas cake with a twist

Welcome to all about food.

I can totally justify this week’s recipe now that Halloween is over! I must say, Christmas actually starts in August in Gingergirl HQ as we make our Spiced Cranberry Chutney then to ensure the flavours have fully developed in time for the Christmas dinner table.

We are also in full flight with our Gingergirl Hampers; our hampers start at €40 and can also be shipped throughout Ireland. For more information log on to

It seems that most of us are moving away from the larger Christmas cake which is probably not a big surprise with the increase of availability for festive treats and the smaller family size, amongst other factors, at play.

In my own family, only one of my daughters and I actually like Christmas Cake – I love a small slice with an espresso on Christmas morning; stealing a few moments to collect my thoughts before Christmas dinner preparation gets underway.

This recipe is one I have altered to suit my own taste, like you, I want some tradition with a little twist. Do note that this cake is so full of flavour that you can wait until a few days before Christmas to make it; simply wrap up the cooled cake and store in an air-tight container until you can resist it no more!

Festive Loaf Cake

  • 150g raisins
  • 50g dried cranberries or dried sour cherries
  • 50g dried apricots, chopped
  • 100g dried figs, chopped
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 250ml brandy
  • 115g butter, plus extra melted for the tin
  • 150g dark chocolate chips
  • 80g chopped pecans and hazelnuts
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 115g muscovado sugar
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 120g of self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 60g bread crumbs
  • Icing sugar, to serve

* Tip the fruit into a bowl with the orange juice and zest and 150ml of the brandy. Stir well, then leave at room temperature for 2 hours for the fruit to plump up.

* Heat your oven to 150˚c fan. Brush a 900g loaf tin with the melted butter and line with baking parchment. Beat the muscovado sugar and butter until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time.

* Mix in the fruit, chocolate and the rest of the ingredients except for the remaining brandy and icing sugar. Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour 15 mins to 1 hr 30 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.

* Remove from the oven and immediately pour over the remaining brandy. Leave to completely cool before storing, Before serving, dust liberally with icing sugar.

Gingergirl aka Helen Keown is an artisan food producer who produces a range of handmade luxury jams, preserves and chutneys made from local, seasonal or organic ingredients. Helen’s produce is available nationwide from independent food emporiums and is also available at selected food delis across Europe.
Letters to ‘gingergirl’ c/o The Tipperary Star, Friar Street, Thurles, Co Tipperary.