Dolly’s ‘Xmas cake’ 1912


  • 450g currants
  • 450g sultanas
  • 225g mixed peel
  • 225g pitted prunes
  • 110g blanched almonds
  • 110g crystallised ginger
  • 150ml brandy
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 450g butter, room temperature
  • 450g brown sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • 575g plain flour, sifted


This is one of the most elaborate recipes recorded by 12-year-old Dolly Youngein in her Plain Cookery course homework book from Fort Street Public School. It's fruit rich and delicious, at Christmas or any other time of year.

This recipe makes one very large cake, but I prefer to make it into two standard-sized cakes – one to cut and one to give as a gift.


Position the oven rack one level below the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 160°C (150°C fan forced).

Lightly grease 2 x 20cm square or round cake tins and line base and sides with double layers of brown paper or baking paper.
Mix the fruit, almonds and ginger together in a large bowl, stirring or mingling it with your hands to distribute the varieties evenly. Stir in the brandy, vanilla and cinnamon.

In a separate large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar with electric beaters until light and pale. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Fold the fruit mixture into the butter mix, then add the flour, stirring lightly to incorporate it into the batter.
Transfer the batter into the prepared tins. You may need to spread it to the edges and smooth the top.

Bake for 2 hours, or until it is firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean. If the top browns before it is cooked through, cover it with a double layer of baking paper. If the two tins are sitting closely side by side, swap them about for even cooking.

This recipe appeared in the post Let them eat Christmas cake! on December 14, 2017.

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