Great Gran’s Christmas Cake and Nan’s Chocolate Cake

We recently asked Cakebaker readers (via our facebook page) to send us cake recipes, which have been passed down through their families.

Debbie Bode sent us two of her favourites together with this lovely picture of her great gran, Sarah Potter taken in 1952, when she would have been about 60 years old.

The Story Behind the Cakes

Debbie told us:

“I thought you might like my family favourite Chocolate layer cake. My Nan first baked this (by adapting a Stork Margarine recipe), and it was always a favourite with us when we were kids. I’ve baked this with my own adaptations and always get asked for the recipe, it’s so easy and tastes really good.

I also have a rich fruit cake recipe that my Nan got from her Nan, so that’s at least 100 years back. My Nan and my mum have used this recipe for Christmas cake for as long as I can remember and it always disappears quickly in our family. I’ve attached a picture of my great gran, Sarah Potter taken in 1952 when she would have been about 60 years old.”

Nan’s Chocolate layer Cake

Preheat oven to Gas 3/325ºF/140ºC (for round cake) or Gas 4/350ºF/180ºC (for bar cake)

  • 4 oz (110g) butter/soft margarine
  • 6 oz (175g) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 oz (150g) plain flour
  • 1 ½ oz (40g) cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda – dissolved in 4 fl oz milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

Cream together the fat and sugar, then beat in the eggs. Sieve in the dry ingredients and fold in with a metal spoon until well-blended. Add the milk and vanilla essence and mix until smooth.

Cake Sizes

For a round cake, grease and line 2 8-inch cake tins, divide the mixture between them and bake on the middle shelf for at Gas mark 3/325ºF/140ºC for 30-35 minutes.

For the bar cake, grease and line a large swiss-roll tin, spread the mixture evenly into the tin, bake on the middle shelf at Gas mark 4/350ºF/180ºC for approx 18 minutes. This can also be baked in twelve greased and lined 4″ tartlet tins, same cooking time and makes 6 small cakes.

After cooking, allow the cake to cool in the tin before turning out and filling/decorating. For the bar cake, trim the edges off the sponge and divide into 3 sections before filling & decorating, use jam for one layer.


  • 6 oz (175g) icing sugar
  • 3 oz (75g) butter
  • Few drops vanilla essence + a little warm water

Soften the butter and blend with the icing sugar, vanilla and enough water for the desired consistency. Sprinkle the top with chocolate vermicelli or grated chocolate.

Christmas Cake (Great-Grandma’s Rich Fruit cake)

Preheat the oven to Gas mark 3 and line an 8 inch square cake tin.

  • 8 oz (225g) currants
  • 8oz (225g) raisins
  • 1 lb (450g) sultanas
  • 6 oz (175g) glace cherries
  • 4 oz (110g) mixed peel
  • 2 oz (50g) chopped almonds
  • 2 oz (50g) ground almonds
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 10 oz (275g) plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 10 oz (275g) margarine or butter
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 10 oz (275g) soft brown sugar
  • 3 dessertspoons black treacle
  • 2 dessertspoons milk
  • 2 dessertspoons brandy


Mix together all the dried fruit, then add the almonds and lemon rind. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and spices. In a large warmed bowl, mix together the softened margarine/butter and brown sugar, beating well.

Add the eggs and black treacle and the flour mixture alternately and work in. Add the fruit and nut mixture gradually and stir well, then add the milk and brandy. Give the mix a good stir, then transfer it to the cake tin. Level the mixture out and make a well in the centre.

Bake in the middle of the oven at Gas Mark 3/325ºF/140ºC for 30 minutes, then lower the heat to Gas Mark 2/300ºF/150ºC for a further 3 ¼ hours. After cooking, allow the cake to go cold before removing it from the tin.

Decorating Your Christmas Cake

Take a look at our feature on decorating christmas cakes for further help.

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