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Alternative festive cake recipes

Christmas cake

If you fancy something a bit lighter than the traditional fruit cake at Christmas, then read on… I am always looking for some different recipes as myself and my son are the only lovers of the traditional christmas cake so while we are happy to eat this all to ourselves, I have been trying to find some alternative festive cakes that we all might enjoy!

Let’s face it, if you are not already feeding a well baked xmas cake with booze this year, it might be a little late to start now with only a couple of weeks to go! These recipes are for cakes that are simple and quicker to bake and can be eaten now - no further preparation required! Christmas is synonymous with joy, warmth, and indulgence and while the classic Christmas cake has long held its place as a festive centrepiece, don't be afraid to break away from tradition and explore alternative cakes that can bring new flavours and excitement.

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Stollen traybake

Anyone happy to eat just the marzipan and forget the fruitcake part?! Well here is a recipe for a lighter balance of fruit with marzipan inside - a take on a German stollen.

Studded with chunks of golden marzipan and mixed dried fruit, this warmly spiced traybake gives you all the festive flavours of a traditional stollen in an easier-to-bake almond sponge.


  • 175g golden marzipan
  • 125g mixed dried fruit
  • 275g self-raising flour
  • 225g soft butter, plus extra to grease
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange, plus 1 tbsp juice
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Seeds from 8 cardamom pods, ground
  • 1½ tsp ground mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 30g flaked almonds
  • Icing sugar, to dust
Stollen traybake

Step by step

  1. Chop the marzipan into small dice, then spread out on a plate and pop in the freezer to chill (this stops it melting in the oven when baked).
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4.
  3. Grease a 20 x 30cm traybake tin and line it with non-stick baking paper.
  4. Toss the mixed dried fruit in 1 tablespoon of the flour and set it aside (to help prevent the fruit sinking through the cake batter).
  5. Place the remaining ingredients, except for the flaked almonds and icing sugar, in a large bowl. Beat for 2-3 minutes with an electric mixer until combined.
  6. Add the cold diced marzipan to the bowl of mixed dried fruit and toss to combine before folding it all into the cake mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, then level it out and scatter the flaked almonds over the top.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and springy to the touch. Leave to cool completely in the tin. Carefully remove from the tin, dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.

How to store

Keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days, or freeze individual squares, ready to defrost as needed.

Cranberry and clementine loaf cake

Cranberry and clementine loaf cake

Ricotta in the cake mix helps to keep the texture lovely, light and moist, while the Cointreau adds an optional splash of festive cheer.


  • 3 tbsp orange liqueur (such as Cointreau), or clementine juice
  • 200g ricotta
  • 175g soft salted butter, plus extra to grease
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 250g plain flour, plus 1 tbsp extra
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g fresh cranberries (or frozen, defrosted)
  • Finely grated zest of 4 clementines

To decorate

  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • Pared peel of 1 clementine, thinly julienned
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange liqueur, or clementine juice

Step by step

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4.
  2. Line and grease a 900g loaf tin (10 x 20cm base measurements).
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the ricotta.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition, then add the 250g flour and the baking powder and mix gently until all the flour is combined.
  5. Coat the cranberries in the extra flour then fold them through the cake mix, adding the zest.
  6. Transfer to the tin and level the top. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then remove and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. Put the caster sugar in a pan with 1 tablespoon of water. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a simmer. Add the strips of clementine peel and simmer in the syrup for 5-6 minutes. Lift out with a fork to a lined tray to cool.
  8. Mix the icing sugar with the orange liqueur or clementine juice until you have a pouring consistency, then drizzle over the top of the cooled cake. Decorate with the candied clementine peel.

How to store

The undecorated loaf cake freezes well. The iced cake keeps for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

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