Holiday Fir Tree Cake

Gochugaru Girl had a long conversation with KL Sister this morning.


The subject was this: the perfect cake for the Christmas season.

Let me introduce my younger sisters. One lives in Hong Kong and the other lives in Kuala Lumpur.

HK Sister:

Adored by Junior 1 and Junior 2 on account of her extensive knowledge of the best cocktails and best bars with views in any city.

Adored by Junior 3 for her willingness to spend whole days with him in Ocean Park and HK Disneyland. I am the colour magnolia to her firecracker red in the fun department.


HK sister took Junior 3 to Disneyland during the October half term



KL Sister:

Adored by everyone on account of her knowledge of everything, as she really takes the time to research a given topic before giving advice.

Devotes 100% attention to any project she undertakes.

Loves anything doggy-related.

My best friend in the baking department. Hence the conversation this morning about how can we can retain our sanity and offer seasonal cheer this time of the year.


KL Sister’s faithful and ever-smiling friend, Cooper



What everyone needs is the genius of what I have christened the Holiday Fir Tree Cake. It never fails to surprise and please, whilst radiating waves of holiday happiness. The recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s Christmas cookbook* where she calls it a Spruced-up Vanilla Cake.

To make it more seasonal, gently spiced the cake mixture: omit the vanilla from the original recipe below, and add 2 teaspoons Boyajian orange oil, 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground cloves and ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg. I assure you, this is the smell of Christmas.

You will need a Holiday Tree Bundt Pan made by Nordicware. This is easily available in the US and UK, and makes a great gift for your friends and family.


The cake keeps well and will cut into 16 – 24 slices. You can serve it by itself or with some Cranberry and Orange Cram.


For the Cake:

225 grams soft butter (plus more for greasing)

300 grams caster sugar

6 large eggs

350 grams plain flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

250 grams plain fat-free yoghurt

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons icing sugar, for dusting





How to Make:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350°F.

Butter or oil the Holiday Tree bundt tin very, very thoroughly.


Put all the ingredients except the icing sugar into the processor and blitz together


Mix by hand or in a freestanding mixer as follows –

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking each one in with a tablespoon of flour
  3. Fold in the rest of the flour, and add the bicarbonate of soda, the yogurt and vanilla extract.

Pour the mixture into your greased tin and spread about evenly.

Place the tin in the oven and cook for 45–60 minutes until well risen and golden. After 45 minutes, push a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

Once out of the oven, let the cake cool for 15 minutes.

Gently pull away the edges of the cake from the tin with your fingers, then turn out the cake.

If a small part of the cake refuses to shift and remains in the tin, gently prise it out and do a ‘patch job’. Make a paste using a tablespoon of icing sugar and a teaspoon of water. Use this to glue the tree back together.

Once cool, dust with the icing sugar pushed through a small sieve.

The cake keeps well in an airtight tin, for up to 5 days.

You can also freeze the cake (without decorating first) and defrost overnight before presenting it. However, this is only worth doing if you are making the cake in October or November because you anticipate that December will be manic. Once Christmas is over, the Wow factor of a holiday fir tree cake will also be over, and it will soon be time to think about the Chinese New Year.




KL Sister whatsapp-ed me this picture of the cake she baked

2014-12-03 21.06.00


* Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson, published by Chatto & Windus, ISBN: 978-0701189167