December 29, 2018

SANDRINGHAM FRUIT CAKE or a tale of two fruit cakes #2


I don’t make a fruit cake very often, in fact most years I only make one and that’s the Christmas cake.  However, very recently I have made two, to different recipes, and been very pleased with them.  This is actually the second one and although it seems daft to post about #2 before #1 I wanted to get this one out because of the connection with Christmas.

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The reason for making this cake began with a visit to our nearest (in fact very local) National Trust property, Hardwick Hall, to see the Christmas decorations.

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I love having Hardwick Hall on our doorstep and we visit it regularly, just because we can.  The Christmas decorations did not disappoint – they were gorgeous.  We combined the outing with a pub lunch and when we got home we discovered that our puppy had been up to no good in our absence.


When I say puppy I actually mean our strapping 16 month old standard poodle Hugo.  He’s so big that it’s sometimes hard to remember that strictly speaking he still is a puppy but anyway he had decided to chew to bits the cover and first few pages of my little Good Food cake recipe book that I had left on the coffee table.  Little devil!


I rapidly ordered a replacement copy from Ebay and it arrived only two days later.  It’s in good condition, secondhand and with some page corners turned over.  I find that slightly annoying but it’s fascinating to see what recipes the previous owner has used.  Even more fascinating was the magazine clipping that fell out of the book!


This has happened before and on that occasion, as now, I felt compelled to make the recipe.  You can read about Sharon’s Hotpot here.

The recipe was for Sandringham Fruit Cake which obviously has royal connections so I fired up the old laptop to see what it was all about.  I came up with nothing very much except for several references to date and walnut cake being the Queen Mother’s favourite and a light fruit cake being popular for afternoon tea.  I looked in my recipe books and couldn’t find it anywhere there either. 

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So I decided to have a go anyway and I’m really glad I did.  It was lovely.  Dead easy to make, not heavy on the fruit or spice and therefore easy to eat.



I served it on my lovely new Christmas Robin cake stand, too.

The recipe is written in ounces first with grams in brackets suggesting that it could be quite old but there were no other clues as to where it had come from.  It also gave no size of tin to use.  I guessed an 8” from the quantity of the ingredients but it was cooked half an hour before the time stated. 


4oz / 100g sugar (I used golden caster)

4oz / 100g margarine (I used Stork for Cakes)

8oz / 225g self raising flour

2 eggs

12oz / 350g mixed dried fruit

½ cup (4 fl oz or 125ml) milk

½ tsp mixed spice


“Using a wooden spoon, mix sugar and margarine together until creamy and stir in the rest of the ingredients to make a firm, stodgy mixture.”

(I creamed the sugar and Stork with my hand held mixer, then beat in the eggs and folded in the rest of the ingredients.)

Turn into prepared tin and bake for about two hours at 160C / 315F / gas mk3.

Bake for 2 hours – mine was ready in 1½ hours.

Cool in the tin before turning out.

Cuts into 10 – 12 slices.


  1. Could I ask the cake tin diameter (roughly, in units of your choice?).

    Thank you for posting this, and I hope you have a Happy Christmas

    1. Annie, there was no tin size given in the recipe!
      I used a 20cm (8") round tin and it worked fine - but the cake was done much quicker than stated.
      I therefore suspect it was meant to be made in a 18cm (7") round tin, which would probably have taken more like the 2 hours stated and produced a deeper cake. I think that I would try this if I make it again.
      I hope this helps and Happy Christmas to you too!

  2. Annie, thank you so much for putting this recipe on line. I was searching for the reason the recipe was devised as I guess it's to do with a Royal celebration. I have been baking this cake from time to time for over 35 years. My mother-in-law gave me the recipe when I first got married. It's such an easy cake to make and tastes delicious every time. I used to have a square tin for this cake and it would take 2 hours to cook but later on I bought a new Prestige 7inch/18cm cake tin and found it cooked in 1 1/2 hours. Needless to say my experience is it depends on your cooker too as I've had gas, electric and fan ovens and they all vary between the 1 1/2 to 2 hours to cook. These days I'm finding nobody in my family likes marzipan and there is always too much icing on a traditional Christmas cake so this makes an ideal alternative when we are all eating richer food during the Christmas season. I loved the fact that the wording of your recipe was very similar to mine too. I hope someone knows more about the origin of the recipe.

    1. Tania, thanks for leaving your comment.
      Further research unearthed this link with a recipe for Sandringham cake which is more like a rich Christmas cake and a huge one at that. It comes from a book called "Dinner at Buckingham Palace", written by a former member of staff there, so I assume it's authentic.

  3. look at the tin, sandringham cake! way before the book I'm sure