Irish Christmas Cake: A Light, Tasty Alternative to Typical Holiday Fruitcake

Irish Christmas Cake (or Irish Tea Cake) is a unique alternative to its better-known cousins, Irish Christmas Pudding, Christmas fruitcake, or Guinness Chocolate Cake

And just as delicious!

After the main celebration at Christmas, when everyone has had their fill of whiskey soaked plum pudding and most of the family has gone, we love the quiet time by the fire with immediate family, sipping tea and enjoying a lighter cake.

While it has all the dried fruit of plum pudding, instead of soaking the fruit in alcohol, you soak it in tea.


Irish Christmas cake.  Slice of cake with holly and berries topping.

Irish Christmas Cake: Ingredients

  • 7 oz banana chips
  • 1 pint strong tea
  • 7 oz dates 4.5oz Craisins or other dried cranberries
  • 5.6oz (approximately ¾ cup plus one tablespoon) turbinado or demerara sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 TBS milk
  • 3 3/4 level cups self rising flour

Irish Christmas Cake: Preparation

The recipe calls for banana chips, but we have found that the crisp ones don’t work as well. When you buy them, try to get the chewier ones.  The crisp ones take forever to soften and sometimes don’t soften at all.

If you have a dehydrator, you can make your own. They’re delicious in this recipe and far less expensive than those you’d buy at the store.

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

2. Brew the strong tea in a bowl with a lid on it. Strong tea requires double the tea bags or loose tea that you’d normally use. For oolong tea, steep 4-7 minutes, black tea, 3-4 minutes and green tea 2-3 minutes. You may already make your tea like this if you drink it as your ancestors did in Ireland, but don’t be tempted to add milk to it. Instead, you’ll be putting all the dried fruit in it to soak. It takes about 2 hours of soaking for them to hydrate.

3. Line an 11” X 9” pan with baking parchment and then grease the parchment. This helps prevent the cake from drying out or browning too much.

4. Beat the eggs separately, then add the milk and continue beating.

5. In a separate bowl, mash the fruit you soaked in tea with a fork. Combine the mixture with the egg/milk mixture and add the rest of the ingredients, mixing well.

6. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.

7. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake it for 1 ½ hours or until it’s a golden brown on the top and springs back when you touch it in the center.

8. Remove from the oven and turn it onto a wire rack to cool.

Irish Christmas Cake: The Finishing Touches

If you want a bit more sweetness, you can sprinkle the cake with sifted powdered sugar.

To create a delightful Christmas design—or a Shamrock if you prefer, simply trace the design onto a piece of wax paper big enough to cover the entire cake.

Use a hobby knife to go over the traced lines, remove the design from the center and throw it away.

Center the outside piece on the middle of the cake. Sift the powdered sugar onto the wax paper, allowing the sugar to fill the cut out center part.

Carefully lift the paper off the cake to prevent any loose sugar on the paper from destroying your beautiful creation.

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Delicious!  Where Can I Find More?

One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to live your Irish side is to serve Irish food.  And guess what?

We have many, many more Irish recipes for you to explore in our section on Irish food recipes!  If you would like to focus on Irish desserts, visit our main section on dessert recipes here!

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