picture of a fruit cake with winter decorations on top (a person on a sledge and a polar bear)

Mid-winter fruit cake (aka Christmas cake…)

Ingredients all ready for the shortest day

I make this version of Christmas cake every year on the shortest day. I found the recipe while living in the south of the South Island, New Zealand, and made it in June – the middle of winter there. We quite often got together with friends to celebrate the solstice and have a mid-winter Christmas. This cake is easy to make and stores well. You can even freeze it. Great for taking on long wintery walks along with the thermos flask.

I’m quoting the original recipe, by a cook named Janice – probably from the local newspaper, but I’m afraid I can’t acknowledge more than that. As a gardener, I love her reference to getting your hands dirty in the introduction!

“This is quick and so easy. I love making it mid winter. I did hear recently that some people don’t like rubbing butter into flour, and hence don’t make scones or pastry because they don’t like getting butter under their fingernails. I don’t know what to say about this apart from advising them to wash their hands. Imagine a life lived without getting your hands dirty.” Janice


  • 1kg mixed dried fruit (Janice used prunes in the mix for a rich dark colour – I like to add cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup liquid – cold tea, sherry or rum
  • 200g butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup honey

Day 1: Soak fruit in liquid

Day 2:

  • In a big bowl, rub butter into the flour.
  • Add sugar, baking soda and salt, and then the dried fruit.
  • In another bowl, mix the eggs with the milk and honey.
  • Add this to the main mixture and stir with hands.
  • Put into a 23 cm round or square tin.
  • Bake at 160 deg C for 1 1/2-2 hours

A New Zealand cup is approximately 120g.

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