Leading up to Christmas, I often imagine myself as a domestic goddess, preparing a sumptuous feast, the table covered in perfectly crisp skinned meats, vibrant salads and desserts patiently waiting in the background. I picture myself making adorable little bags of nougat, toffee, shortbreads and artfully decorated gingerbread men biscuits wrapped in clear pockets and tied with a cute ribbon that I would distribute to my friends and family. I envision exquisitely composed table decorations, fresh flowers and crisp white napkins with a golden trim.

That’s usually where it ends though and as the day gets closer, my small army of gingerbread men retreats into the confines of my gourmet mind for another year. If this sounds familiar, then fear not, I have the answer for you: this year, you can MAKE IT or FAKE IT.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share some of my favourite traditional christmas recipes for those in the mood to make it. For those who would rather fake it, I’ll share the delicious foods you can get from the shelves of The Essential Ingredient and straight onto a platter!


I’ll start with traditional Christmas cake since my husband’s face literally lights up at the mention of it and is a guaranteed feature if we are celebrating the holidays in his family.

Since my own tradition with fruit cake only goes back as far as my relationship with my husband does, who better to turn to than to my mother-in-law for a trusted recipe?

The following recipe has been tried and tested enough times to be called a winner year after year. There are enough surprises under the tree not to have any in the kitchen!

This traditional fruit cake can be made up to 12 months in advance and stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Cake can be frozen for up to 12 months. Unsuitable to microwave.



  • 2 cups (280g) currants*
  • 2 cups (340g) raisins, chopped*
  • 3 cups (500g) sultanas*
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 155g butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar*
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam*
  • 2 cups plain flour*
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour*
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice*
  • 1 cup glace cherries, chopped*
  • 2 cups (370g) mixed peel*
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • blanched almonds
  • glace cherries, extra*
  • 1/4 cup dark rum, extra


Combine currants, raisins and sultanas in a large bowl, add rum, cover and stand overnight.

Grease a deep 25cm round cake pan, line base and side with 3 thicknesses of paper, bringing paper about 5cm about the edge of the pan.

Cream butter and sugar in a small bowl with electric mixer. Do not overbeat. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Transfer mixture to large bowl, stir in jam, then sifted dry ingredients in 2 batches. Add fruit mixture, cherries, peel and slivered almonds. Mix well.

Spread mixture into pan, decorate with blanched almonds and extra cherries. Bake in slow oven, 140°C, for about 3 hours. Drizzle extra rum over hot cake, cover and cool in pan.


Can’t imagine Christmas without fruit cake but like to keep it simple? Why not just fake it with a rich Tar 10 Christmas cake, a 1kg English style christmas cake packed full of fruity flavour. It is preservative free and made right here, in the Hunter with the freshest Australian ingredients.

*These Ingredients are available from The Essential Ingredient Newcastle.