An invitation to the traditional Christmas cake mixing ceremony for the Elite Group, which takes place each year at the beginning of November, got us wondering about just what goes into some of our favourite festive offerings.

First off, we had to ask why the Christmas cake has to be prepared so early. Well, apparently with such a rich and heavy, fruity mixture you have to allow several weeks for the fruits and nuts to absorb the liberal quantity of beverages they are steeped in before actually mixing them into a cake!

We had great fun getting involved and finding out chef Sultan’s recipe.
Christmas plum cake
50g broken cashew nuts
40g almonds
50g prunes
40g dark brown sugar
40g mixed dried fruit
40g raisins
40g blackcurrants
50g red cherries
10g strawberry jam
15g orange jam
30g orange marmalade with peel
15g apricot jam
15g candied ginger
30g candied peel
Sprinkling almond essence
2.5g cinnamon powder
1.3g green cardamom
8ml sailors’ beverage
9ml French beverage

Mix thoroughly all the above but only around two thirds of the beverages and store in a cool, dark place to macerate over several weeks. Turn the mixture every five to six days adding the remaining beverage.

Cake mixture
50g semolina
130g flour
2.5 eggs
130g unsalted butter
120g sugar
13g treacle syrup
1.3g baking powder

After the maceration period sift the flour twice with baking powder, add semolina and mix thoroughly.

Soften the butter, add the sugar and mix, incorporating the treacle and eggs little by little to form a smooth mixture.

Fold in the flour gently ensuring no lumps.

Us a greased cake tin dusted with flour and lined with baking parchment and bake in a preheated oven at 150°C for 45 minutes to an hour.

Once thoroughly cooled you can add icing and decorations.
(Note, measurements are approximate, we made 750kg of cake, this recipe should make around 1kg!)

Next we visited Le Chocolat to get the skinny on Chef Elli’s traditional French Buche De Noel or chocolate Yule log.


10 whole eggs
300g confectioner’s sugar
300g flour
40g cocao powder
20g vanilla liquid
3 pieces orange zest


1ltr water
400g sugar
Cinnamon stick
Vanilla liquid


200g dark chocolate
4 eggs (separated)
2tbs orange Juice
400ml thickened cream


Mix eggs and sugar in mixing machine for 30 minutes.

Add cocoa powder, flour, orange zest and vanilla syrup and mix together.

Spread the mixture in a tray to1.5cm thickness and cook in oven for 10 minutes at 190°C.


Boil water and sugar together and add cinnamon stick and vanilla liquid and cool.


Mix Sugar and eggs, add dark chocolate (mixed) and cocoa powder and orange juice.

Spread the cream onto the sponge and roll it. Freeze it for 20 minutes and cut the loaf edges to resemble a tree then garnish with icing sugar for snow and festive decorations.

Lastly we headed down to the Sofitel to find out chef Fabrice’s recipe for that oldest of traditional favourites.

Christmas pudding

300g butter
170g brown sugar
60g sugar
6 eggs
300g soft flour
15g dry blackcurrants
70g golden raisins
150g mixed candied fruits
30g sliced almonds Slice
3g salt
4g baking powder
Vanilla essence
2g nutmeg powder
2g clove powder
2g ginger powder
2g cinnamon powder
60g sailors’ beverage
60g French beverage


Marinate the blackcurrants, raisins and mixed candied fruits with the beverages for a minimum of 24 hours.

Cream the butter and the two kinds of sugar in a blender for five minutes.

Add the eggs gradually.

Strain the flour, baking powder, salt and spices, add the sliced almonds and add it in the above mixture and mix well

Add the vanilla essence.

Bake at 160°C-170°C for 60 to 75 minutes.

This recipe will serve 10 to 15 Persons
(And yes we know Christmas pudding is usually steamed for hours but this is the version for those who have better things to do, which we reckon covers our readers!)