Sugar Plum Layer Cake

Isn’t It funny how some events stay with you for life? When I was in my teens, I was lucky enough to see the Nutcracker. I was captivated, such beauty in the seamless montage of sight and sound was spellbinding.

So, I set about making a cake that brought all my emotions to fruition. Sweet, pure, and white, the innocence of a childhood dream, glistening with sugar, spice, and all things nice.

This one is made with love each year, taking place of the ubiquitous fruit cake.

Trouble is, it doesn’t last nearly as long….

My Parents, who are in their 70s both, say ‘It’s this cake that sums up Christmas, part of the Advent we look forward to a slice sitting by the warmth of the log fire with a cocktail in hand”


225g Unsalted Butter

300g Caster Sugar

100g Light Muscovado Sugar

4 Eggs, room temperature

½ tsp Cinnamon

¼ tsp Nutmeg

¼ tsp Ground Ginger

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 tsp Almond Extract

380g Plain Flour

1 tbsp Baking Powder

½ tsp Flaky Salt

240g Whole Milk, Room temperature

100g Maraschino Cherries/ fresh plums, roughly chopped

3-4 tbsp Plum Jam

1 tbsp Sweet Vermouth

Crystallised Plums & Leaves to decorate


450g Unsalted Butter

900g Icing Sugar

100g Double Cream

1 tbsp Caramel Sauce/ Plum Jam

¼ tsp Almond Extract

1/8 tsp Salt


1. Preheat Oven 180C. Grease and line two 8” tins with paper, butter and flour, set aside in the fridge.

2. Add the butter and both sugars to a stand mixer and beat for 5-6 minutes or until pale and fluffy.

3. Meanwhile mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a separate bowl with a whisk. In a jug, mix the milk with the vanilla and almond extracts.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter mixture, beating for 30 seconds between each addition. Add half the milk mixture, followed by half the flour and fold in until only just combined. Repeat with the remaining milk and flour. At this stage it is better to have a few lumps than to overmix.

5. Fold in the cherries/plums and weigh the batter into the two tins, making sure they are equal.

6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Stand for 10 minutes in the tin before inverting onto wire rack.

7. Brush one side of each with the vermouth and allow to cool completely.

8. Meanwhile, make the buttercream. Add the butter and half the icing sugar to a stand mixer, along with the salt and mash with a fork, this will prevent a cloud of sugar across your kitchen. Add the remaining sugar and beat well, adding 1 tbsp of the cream at a time. Once the mixture is smooth, increase the speed, add the extract and caramel, and beat for 1-2 minutes or until smooth and fluffy.

9. Layer the cakes with the buttercream and jam, using the remaining buttercream to cover the top and sides.

10. Decorate with crystallised fruits, leaves and pinecones.