cranberry "whiskey under the sink cake"

“Hand Me Downs” and not the recipe version always caused uproar in my house when I was growing up, and it was no different with my own kids.  I was lucky as the eldest I didn’t suffer the “shame” but for my brothers there was no escape, they shared clothes, toys and football boots..

With four kids of my own we are no strangers to the “hand me downs”. Only recently I came across a box of my eldest boy clothes in the attic, some barely worn and turns out are just the perfect fit for my youngest. The wails of objection could be heard for miles, he asked me why was he being punished!!! lol. The Clothes were not his style, were “old-fashioned” already worn and from another century (there’s five years between the two boys) The excuses went on to such an extent said bag of clothes is in the garage waiting to be left in to my local charity shop.

While I was in the attic I found some hidden treasure, a collection of hand written recipes belonged to my grandmother, that I had put away. Now these are the best kind of “hand me downs” precious gems, little glimpses into the past of days gone by.

One of my favorite hobbies (addictions) is collecting cookery books. I know we have google and its very easy to press the search button for a recipe, but nothing beats the feel of a cookery book, especially a very old one. I l love going into charity shops in search of these lost treasures and have quite a few “gems” in my collection books from the 1940’s and 50’s.  I love the written notes left on the pages.

One of my personal favorite “hand me down” recipes is my Grandmothers “Whiskey Under The Sink Cake”. It was called this because she made it with the good whiskey which she hid under the sink away from my Grandfather who was fond of a “drop or two”.  I did ask her once what type of whiskey she used she said it was Irish and had no label and was “specially” made – the word Poitin comes to mind, but she said any kind of whiskey would do as long as it was Irish, using any other kind was a “cardinal sin”.

 oringinal whiskey under the sink

Now since we are nearing Christmas, I decided to adapt the recipe to make it a bit more christmassy. I haven’t taken anything out just added some luxury fruit and cranberries.  I finished it off with a white chocolate glaze topped with frosted cranberries


cranberry whiskey under the sink



I cannot stress how easy and delicious this cake is. It tastes and smells like Christmas, similar to a Christmas cake but not as heavy. You will definitely eat more than one slice.

If you are not too  fond of whiskey, you can substitute sherry, which works just as well

Quick & Easy Christmas Fruit Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 12 slices

Cranberry Christmas Fruit Cake

A very easy & delicious Christmas Fruit Cake. a brilliant alternative to the normal Christmas cake. Sherry can be substituted for the Whiskey


  • 125 g mixture of dried fruit (such as raisins, sultanas, currants and chopped dried apricots, Blueberries, Cranberries any fruit you have)
  • 75-100 ml whiskey
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 230 g unsalted butter softened (plus extra for greasing)
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250 g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • icing sugar (for dusting)
  • 100g melted white chocolate


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
  • Line a 1lb loaf tin (or use an 8in round cake tin) with greaseproof paper and rub the sides with butter to grease it. You could use those handy loaf tin liners if your making it in the loaf tin.
  • Place the dried fruit and alcohol in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for a few seconds and then pour into a bowl and allow to cool.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter until soft, add the sugar and beat, then and the eggs one by one, beating all the time Gently stir in the sifted flour, baking powder, cinnamon & nutmeg, salt, fruit and whiskey
  • Transfer the cake batter into the prepared tin, smooth the top and cook in the oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake center comes out clean.
  • Cool slightly before removing the cake from the tin and finish cooling on a wire rack.
  • Melt 100g white chocolate and cover top of cooled cake. Top with cranberries



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  • liz November 25, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Another stunner of a recipe Karyn & easy too..you have some great recipes on your facebook baking page. I made your rolo cookies they were divine

    • Karyn November 25, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks I love Christmas Baking..Hows the christmas preparation coming along?.. Do you still have Santa paying a visit?

  • Kathleen Kelly November 25, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    This looks really good, I will be making it for sure!! Thanks!

    • Karyn November 25, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Thanks Kathleen.. Hope you like it.. I love your blog and all the reviews especially the book reviews.. big book worms in this house ..Let me know how you get on with the cake xx Karyn Happy Thanksgiving

  • Donna November 25, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    This looks delicious Karen! I’m working on a recipe for a Christmas Cake with no dried fruit, it’s getting there slowly.
    How lovely to have your grandmother’s recipes like that!

  • Yvonne O'Donnell December 15, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Hi Karyn, heard you in the radio with Nicky & Jenny a few wks back and love your recipes! Did you have a recipe for Baileys fudge recently or am I imagining that?



    • Karyn December 15, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      Hi Yvonne😀 Thanks for getting in touch..your right I have a recipe for Baileys Fudge on my Irish Baking Adventures FB Page..this is the link to the recipe (have some other Christmas Recipes there too🎅🎅) https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1173242472730440&id=684325048288854.. Dont forgetto download a copy of my new mini e-book ,its FREE the link is on my blog.

      Hope you and your family have a lovely Christmas

      All the best



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