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Certosino recipe

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Adjust Servings:
100 g Raisins
50 ml Marsala Wine or brandy
250 g runny Honey
100 g soft Brown Sugar
60 g Unsalted Butter
350 g plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
2 tsp ground Mixed Spice
2 tsp Fennel Seeds , lightly crushed
250 g cooking Apples , cored, peeled and finely grated
50 g Pine Nuts
100 g Almonds , blanched and slivered
100 g Walnuts , roughly chopped
100 g Dark Chocolate , roughly chopped into 1 cm pieces
50 g crystallised Ginger , finely chopped
100 g mixed candied Orange and lemon peel, roughly chopped into 1 cm pieces
To Decorate
4 tbsp Apricot Jam , sieved and warmed
A selection of glacé or crystallised fruits, such as Cherries , angelica and pineapple
12–16 Walnuts halves

Certosino recipe

  • Serves 24
  • Medium


  • To Decorate



Festooned with glacé fruits and nuts, this exquisite honey-sweetened Italian Christmas cake is jam-packed with fragrant and exotic things. This recipe, a little altered, comes from cakeophile Alison Finch’s informative Brief History of the Christmas Cake. Try replacing the cooking apple with fragrant quince, if you happen to have some. Make this well ahead of time: it is a cake which, like so many of us, improves with keeping.



Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas mark 3. Put the raisins and the Marsala or brandy into a small bowl and leave to soak for at least 30 minutes.


Put the honey, brown sugar, butter and 75 ml water into a small saucepan and place over a gentle heat. Heat, stirring until the ingredients have softened and are well combined, without allowing it to boil. Set aside.


Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl. Toss in the fennel seeds and the grated apple. Next, pour in the warm honey mixture and the soaked raisins and mix to a batter. Stir in the pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, chocolate, crystallised stem ginger and candied peel until evenly mixed.


Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, spreading it out evenly with the back of the spoon. Bake for about 1¼ hours until just firm and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave in the tin until completely cold. Wrap in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight tin until ready to decorate.


Before serving, brush the top of the cake evenly with half the apricot jam. Arrange the glacé fruits and walnut halves decoratively on the top and brush over the remaining apricot jam. Leave to set before serving.


Stored in an airtight tin, this cake will keep for 10 weeks or even longer.


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