Exciting times here at Crumble Cottage and as baking is at the heart of everything we do, we thought it would be a nice idea to share some traditional Christmas bakes handed down through generations. So last week we made a movie! Maybe movie is a bit grand, but it’s a charming video featuring our lovely friend and brilliant baker, Alison. She lives in our village with her family and has aa growing reputation for her amazing bakes.

So Alison donned her favourite Crumble Cottage ‘Pudding’ apron and worked her magic. Armed with his trusty i-phone, Stephen became ‘cameraman extraordinaire’ and Kym embarked on the steepest learning curve to edit our  little film. Actually, we’re quite chuffed with the result!

So as the festive season approaches, we’ll be creating more Crumble films showing how simple it is to make wonderful Christmas goodies for friends and family. No complicated recipes, so even if you’ve never baked before, our step-by-step videos will give you the confidence you need to produce delicious cakes, biscuits and much more.

We’re starting with Mrs Syke’s Christmas Cake, a wonderfully rich Christmas  recipe dating from about 1890. It’s extremely easy to make and although I haven’t yet tasted the finished thing, I guiltily licked the bowl and it was fantastic!

Alison will show you how, but here is the full recipe for you to follow too.

Mrs Sykes’ Christmas Cake


  • 10” square tin, greased and lined.
  • Fan 140 oven, or 160 degrees non fan, or gas mark 3 – preheated
  • Electric mixer, hand held mixer, or wooden spoon!
  • Silicon spatula



  • 350g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 1 level dessert spoon mixed spice
  • 1 level tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 level tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 level tsp ground cloves
  • 450g seedless raisins, chopped
  • 450g currants
  • 450g sultanas
  • 225g mixed peel, chopped (or 250g mixed peel if not using angelica)
  • 225g glace cherries, quartered
  • 25g chopped angelica (optional)
  • 100g blanched almonds, sliced lengthways
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 280g soft dark brown sugar
  • 350g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • Grated zest of one lemon
  • 8 medium eggs
  • Small bottle of brandy – 4 tablespoons for cake plus more for basting




  1. Cream together the butter and sugar in the electric mixer.
  2. Add in the lemon zest, beating in well.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in well after each egg and scraping the mixture down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Add a spoonful of flour in between each egg, to stop the mixture curdling.
  5. Beat in the remainder of the flour and the ground almonds along with the salt, mixed spice, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon and cloves until the batter is smooth.
  6. Fold in the dried fruit, glace cherries, angelica and chopped almonds.
  7. Finally stir in the brandy.
  8. Cook’s note – the mixture should be soft and moist. If it looks a bit dry, beat in another egg.
  9. Bake for two hours at 140 fan. At the end of two hours, skewer test to see if it’s ready. If it’s not ready, but the top is good brown colour, cover with foil to stop it browning any further but continue to bake. It may need up to another hour, but this will depend on your oven so check every 15 minutes or so. It is ready when the skewer comes out clean. Mine was done at 2 hours in a 140 fan.
  10. Cool in the tin. Take it out of the tin, but don’t peel off the greaseproof paper. Wrap the top with greaseproof paper and the whole thing in silver foil and store in a cool, dark, place (not the fridge).
  11. Baste once a month with a tablespoon or so of brandy, painting it on with a pastry brush. If you want to you can poke the top of the cake with a cocktail stick to encourage the brandy to soak down into it. You want to keep it moist, but don’t want a pile of soggy crumbs!

Just visit our facebook page to see the film and we’ll be posting on Youtube too. We’ll be back soon to show you how to put the finishing touches to your cake, so enjoy the film and happy baking.