Why we're all slow cooking our Christmas cakes this year

Slow cooker Christmas cake is the easy festive recipe you need in your life this year. Find out why and follow our failsafe step-by-step.

slow cooker Christmas cake recipe
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Want to know why team Real Homes is making Christmas cake in a slow cooker this year? We'll let you in on a secret: slow cooking your Christmas cake costs half what it costs to bake it in a conventional electric oven. 

It's a very simple price comparison: running a slow cooker costs around 10 cents an hour. Running an average electric oven, on the other hand, will cost around 20 cents an hour. When you think about all the different things you'll need to bake, boil, and fry during the festive season, you can imagine those energy bills really climbing up. 

This slow cooker Christmas cake recipe is guaranteed to save you money on electricity - and not turn your cake dry... In fact, we'll wager that this slow cooker recipe may well deliver a better Christmas cake than traditional methods. Just make sure you don't hold back on ingredients: this is a 'hungry' cake that will take all you can give it, including plenty of booze. Being generous with ingredients will prevent your cake from drying out – which, let's face it, no amount of icing on top will rescue. 

Slow cookers are so useful for making Christmas cake, because it's much less likely your cake will burn or dry out than when making it in a cake tin in the oven. Below, we're sharing our favorite slow cooker Christmas cake recipe. As a precaution, and to make it easier to turn out, we recommend lining your slow cooker with foil before putting in the cake mix. Alternatively, use a silicone cake mold (opens in new tab) – it'll prevent the cake from sticking to the sides of your slow cooker and is safe to use. 

Slow cooker Christmas cake recipe

The beauty of this recipe is that you can really experiment with what you like best. More/different fruit? Not a problem. More/another type of booze? Again, try out different types to see what you enjoy the most. Will it be sherry or whisky? Finally, there's the question of icing or no icing. This recipe does not require icing, because we like serving our Christmas cake with clotted cream. But there's nothing stopping you smothering your cake in as much icing as you like if you like it that way (or how about salted caramel flavored buttercream?) For our juicy version of the Christmas cake, you will need:

  • Large eggs, three;
  • Plain flour, 250 grams;
  • Brandy, 200 ml + extra for impregnating the cake afterwards;
  • Raisins, sultanas, sweetened dried cranberries, glace cherries, 200 grams each;
  • Butter, melted, 200 grams;
  • Treacle/molasses/syrup, two to four tablespoons;
  • Cinnamon, one teaspoon;
  • Brown sugar, four tablespoons;
  • Ground almonds, 100 grams;
  • The zest and juice of a large orange

1. Mix the eggs, flour, and butter

The first step is mixing the eggs, flour, and the melted butter. Beat the eggs vigorously, then add in the flour gradually. Don't add it in all at once as it'll go lumpy. Then, slowly pour in the butter. 

2. Mix in the sugar

Mix in both types of sugar, until the mixture is smooth. Again, you're best off mixing in the sugar slowly and gradually to make sure it's completely blended in. 

3. Add the citrus, alcohol, and spices

Add the ground almonds, orange zest and juice, cinnamon, and the brandy. Keep mixing until uniform.

4. Add the fruit

You'll want to make sure it's evenly distributed throughout the cake mixture. The reason the fruit goes in last is that you want a smooth cake batter by the time you add it in. You may find that distributing the fruit through the cake mix with your hands gives you the most even coverage.

5. Pour the mixture into the cake mold

Pour the mixture into your pre-lined slow cooker/cake mold (to go inside the slow cooker).

6. Turn on the slow cooker

Cook on medium for three to four hours or slow for four to five hours, or until the cake is a golden brown color on top.  

6. Take the cake out of the slow cooker

It's time to take the cake out of the slow cooker and out of the mold if using one. Then, make a few small holes in the top of the cake with the tip of a knife; drizzle a little more brandy. Discard any that ends up collecting at the bottom of the cake.

7. Let the cake cool

It's very important to follow this step if you are icing your cake, or you'll end up with messy icing. Let the cake cool completely before pouring over your icing. To make the icing, simply follow the instructions on your icing pack.

7. Plate and serve

Serve on its own if iced, or with cream/brandy cream if having without. 

How to store Christmas cake

If you're baking your Christmas cake in advance, you'll want to make sure it's stored correctly to prevent it drying out. The best way to do this is by wrapping your cake in foil – twice, placing it in an airtight container, and then putting it away in a cupboard. It's not necessary to keep your cake in the fridge, but make sure it's kept out of direct sunlight and sources of heat. 

What is the best alcohol to use for Christmas cake? 

Eric Sornoso, co-founder, meal blogger and recipe developer at Mealfan (opens in new tab), recommends using bourbon or rum as both 'go well with the cake.'

Megan Ayala, a food and nutrition specialist at Patricia and Carolyn (opens in new tab), has a special preference for Bacardi Gold 'because of its sweet, smooth flavor. It blends perfectly with all the ingredients and doesn’t overpower the cake or make it taste alcohol-y.'

If you don't like using alcohol, you can use apple juice or extra orange juice in your cake.  

Is foil safe to use in the slow cooker?

Yes, foil is definitely safe to use in the slow cooker and you can use it if you don't have a silicone mold. It'll do the job of preventing the cake from sticking to the sides of the cooker.

Anna Cottrell

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design. 

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