Fashionably Late Christmas Cake

christmas cake

I have a bad cold and it makes me cross and grumpy and irritable. Unfortunately, I really can’t blame my laziness on this cold, no matter how much wool I pull over anybody’s facial features. I’ve had this cold for three days; I have been sitting on this post for two months. That’s an awful lot of unaccounted-for cold-free days ….

But hey, it’s the holiday season and who knows, perhaps I can make a fashionably late grand entrance to the party with this Christmas Cake. Especially if I tell you that this is no ordinary Christmas Cake. For this, my dear readers, is a diabetic-friendly Christmas Cake. An oxymoron? (and no, that is not a bright blue alcoholic cocktail, which for some strange reason is the first picture that always pops into my head when I hear that word). Cake and low-sugar can, and do, belong in the same sentence sometimes.

Back in November, I was invited to contribute a recipe for the Active Brokers Diabetes Cookbook. The plan was that this recipe book would be full of useful recipes for people living with diabetes, including health information and a series of sweet and savoury recipes that are easy to make at home.

Having grown up in a family where mealtimes had to take into account my Dad’s type 1 diabetes, the daily routines of carbohydrate monitoring and insulin injections have always been very familiar to me. Fortunately, medical advances have meant that my Dad can now take a more flexible approach to managing his diet than ever before. I was therefore especially interested in taking part in this project.

Knowing that Christmas was just around the corner, I thought that it would be fun to produce a festive recipe ………. all of which led to the creation of The Diabetic Christmas Cake. It is substantially lower in sugar and fat content than the traditional Christmas cake and has a deep, rich flavour. It can be kept for up to two weeks, or it can be frozen.

Perhaps I should rename it, ‘The Diabetic New Year Cake’ ….. or, ‘The Diabetic Cake You Wish You’d Had For Christmas’….. or ‘Next Year’s Diabetic Christmas Cake’ …? Miracles can be worked with a little rebranding 😉

The Diabetic Christmas Cake

125g (4 oz) unsweetened dried apple rings, roughly chopped
50g (2 oz) dried cherries
175g (6 oz) currants
125g (4 oz) dried apricots, roughly chopped
175g (6 oz) golden sultanas
5 tbsp (75 ml) brandy
250g (8 oz) half-fat spread
75g (3 oz) dark muscovado sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
250g (8 oz) self-raising wholemeal flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp (30 ml) skimmed milk
125g (4 oz) mixed nuts
3 tbsp (45 ml) reduced-sugar apricot jam

Mix together the apple, cherries, currants, apricots and sultanas in a large bowl and pour over the brandy. Cover and leave to soak for 12 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C (300 degrees F).

Lightly grease a 20 cm (8-inch) round cake pan. Line the base and sides with a double layer of baking parchment. Wrap a folded length of brown paper around the outside of the tin and secure with string.

Place the half-fat spread and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon and orange zests and stir to combine. Gradually beat in the eggs and almond extract.

Stir the flour, salt and spices together with a whisk, then add to the mixing bowl. Fold in gently until thoroughly incorporated.

Fold in the soaked fruit and milk.

Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the top. Decorate carefully with the mixed nuts.

Bake in the preheated oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake (cover the surface lightly with tin foil towards the end of the baking time to prevent overbrowning).

Place the tin on a wire rack and leave the cake to cool slightly before turning it out and cooling completely on the rack. Carefully peel away the baking parchment.

To glaze the cake, warm the apricot jam until runny and brush over the nuts. The cake can be decorated with a wide coloured ribbon tied around the side.

Leave a comment


  1. Dad

     /  December 31, 2014

    This looks a to be a very interesting cake – and I even get a mention.
    I’m going to ask my live-in resident chef to make one for me.
    I will be looking forward to sampling this Fashionably Late Christmas Cake early in 2015.
    Happy New Year everybody.

  2. Brilliant! Even if it weren’t specifically intended for those with diabetes to enjoy, it would be a lovely holiday cake on its own merit.

  3. Dad

     /  January 4, 2015

    Kate, Yerma says, “Thanks Kate, I’m going to re-christen it ‘The Diabetic Birthday Cake’ and make it for Dad’s birthday in March.”
    Aren’t I a lucky bunny?

  4. Jeannette

     /  January 13, 2015

    Hi Kate, Remember me? I hope you and your family are well and happy. We haven’t been down to Devon for a while but the family have visited us instead. I am interested in this recipe as we have a very dear friend who is diabetic, I would love to make it for him as a treat. Is it suitable for all diabetics do you know?
    Happy New Year to you and yours for 2015!

    • Hello Jeannette! It’s lovely to hear from you – and Happy New Year 🙂
      I tried to keep the sugar content of the cake to a minimum, but it is still a sweet treat (as in, not for eating all at once!).

  5. The Free From Fairy

     /  February 6, 2015

    Hi there! You don’t know me but we live in the same village! I was talking to your friend Charlotte last night in the pub and she told me about your site…and of course I had to take a look! Then I found that we had recipes both featured in the Active Brokers cookbook and I decided that I just had to contact you…they are even next to each other in the book! I love experimenting with food and am fascinated by your flour experiments! What a lovely site.

    • Thanks for getting in touch! I’m always amazed at how our village can be so small and yet also so big at the same time! I’d love to meet up if you fancy a drink sometime … perhaps we could liberate Charlotte for the evening again too 🙂

      • The Free From Fairy

         /  February 11, 2015

        That would be lovely!! I will catch Charlotte next time I see her at school!

  6. Dad

     /  December 24, 2015

    The Christmas cake was OK to have in March – yum, yum.
    I may be lucky this Christmas and get another nibble, hopefully.
    Season’s greetings to all and a healthy, joyful and prosperous New Year.


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