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CWA Christmas cake recipe


South Australian Country Women’s Association members have come together to share their love of baking for a reinvention of their original Calendar of Cakes recipe book from 1950.

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Created by a new wave of young SACWA members, this second edition of Calendar of Cakes features recipes that have been passed down through generations and perfected over the years.

The result is a practical, approachable, reliable and educational cookbook, presented by food editor and stylist Fiona Roberts with beautiful imagery by food photographer Jacqui Way.

As the name suggests, Calendar of Cakes presents four different recipes for every month of the year, plus more for special occasions. Here, the SACWA shares a Christmas cake recipe from the December section contributed by Rose Curtis, a member of the Moonta branch.

“This recipe was my mother’s,” writes Curtis. “She never used a recipe book, she just made cakes straight out of her head, and this one was always the best.

“I’ve always got fruit cakes in the cupboard. They keep well, they’re always fresh, and if anyone comes over, it’s lovely to put a piece of fruit cake on the table. I think the secret is to soak the fruit for at least two days in some port. Sometimes I soak it for a week. If it dries out, I just add more.”

Good Christmas Cake

Preparation time: 40 minutes and soaking time
Cooking time: 2¹⁄₂ hours and ¹⁄₂ hour with oven off
Equipment: 2 x 23cm round or square cake tins, or 1 large cake 28cm round and 2 smaller cakes 1 x 16cm round and 1 x 13cm round


450g currants
450g sultanas
450g raisins
1 tablespoon glacé ginger, chopped
¹⁄₂ cup (125 mL) brandy or port
450g unsalted butter, softened
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons golden syrup
9 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
1 heaped cup plain flour
1 heaped cup self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
1¹⁄₂ cups blanched almonds, to garnish


Place dried fruit and brandy together in a large non-metallic mixing bowl, stirring to combine. Cover and leave to soak overnight.

Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan-forced) and lightly grease 2 x 23cm cake tins or 28cm, 16cm and 13cm round tins and line with a double thickness of baking paper.

Place softened butter, sugar, allspice, mace, cinnamon, nutmeg and golden syrup together in a large mixing bowl. Using electric beaters, beat the mixture until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Gradually add the soaked fruit, flours and salt to the butter mixture, ­stirring gently with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Spoon mixture into prepared cake tins and smooth the tops. Decorate the cakes with blanched almonds and place tins in pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 140C (120C fan-forced) for 1¹⁄₂ hours for small cakes, 2¹⁄₂ hours for 23cm cakes and 3 hours for 28cm cake or until a skewer comes out of the centre of each cake clean.

Turn the oven off and leave large cakes to cool in the oven for a further 30 minutes. For the smaller cakes, remove from oven and cover with foil to cool for 30 minutes. Leave cakes to cool in tins. Remove cooled cakes from tins and peel off baking paper. Wrap in clean baking paper and foil, and keep in airtight containers until ready to eat.

Serves 60


All rich fruit cakes need time to ‘mature’ and alcohol helps them keep. Store at room temperature wrapped securely in baking paper and foil. If cake becomes a little dry, ‘feed’ with brandy!


‘Calendar of Cakes’ by Fiona Roberts and Jacqui Way, $29.95, is published by Wakefield Press.

The South Australian Country Women’s Association has been serving the community since 1929. It is a not-for-profit organisation made up of volunteers who work to promote the welfare and conditions of life for women and children of all ages whether in the city or country.

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