Christmas Poor Man’s Cake

Christmas Poor Man's Cake

In a rare moment of kitchen experimentation, I came up with this Christmas version of an old family recipe, Poor Man’s Cake. It’s got lots of Christmassy flavours like orange zest and warm spice. If you’re not into Christmas cake or pudding, give this a try.


  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • zest 1 small orange
  • 125g sultanas
  • 125g raisins
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 3 tbsp brandy (or dark rum)
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 240ml whole milk
  • 3 tbsp demerera sugar


  1. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl along with the salt and ground spices. Rub butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Now add the caster sugar and orange zest.
  2. Slit open the cardamom pods and grind the black seeds using a mortar and pestle and add to the mixing bowl.
  3. Toss the dried fruit in a little flour (this stops the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the baking tin) and add to the mixing bowl.
  4. Beat the eggs into the milk and rum, then mix well with the dry ingredients.
  5. Pour (this is quite a wet batter) into a greased 8″ (20cm) square tin and sprinkle the top liberally with the demerera sugar. Bake at 160°C (140°C fan) for 2 hours.
  6. Leave to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes before removing. It’s best eaten on the day you bake it, but it will keep very well in an airtight box for 2-3 days. It also freezes quite well; just wrap in greaseproof paper and foil.

Makes 20-25 portions.



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