Christmas Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 175 g (¾ cup) unsalted butter, chopped
  • 210 g (1 packed cup) light brown muscavado sugar
  • 400 g (2 + ⅔ cups) mixed dried fruit
  • 200 g (1 cup) glacé cherries - roughly chopped
  • 100 g (1 cup) dried cranberries
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 120 ml (½ cup) cherry brandy
  • 85 g (½ cup) ground almonds - (coarsely ground - not the type that is like flour)
  • 3 large eggs - lightly whisked
  • 200 g (1 + ⅔ cup) plain (all-pur
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground allspices
  •  INSTRUCTIONS
  • Take a large saucepan pan and add the butter, sugar, dried mixed fruit, glacé cherries, cranberries, orange & lemon zest and juice and all but 4 tbsp of the cherry brandy.

  • Heat on a medium heat until the mixture comes to a gently bubble, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 30 minutes.

  • Preheat the oven to 150C/300F and line a 20cm (~8inch) spring-form round cake tin (with a removable base) with baking parchment (I find it's easier to line the sides first so they're about 2" above the cake tin, then cut out a circle for the base and push it in).

  • Add the ground almonds into the slightly cooled fruit mixture and mix, then stir in the eggs.

  • Add the flour, baking powder and spices and fold together until everything is just combined.

  • Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth flat with the back of a spoon.

  • Bake for 45 minutes, then turn down the heat to 140C/275F and cook for a further 1-1+½ hours, until the cake is dark brown on top and an inserted skewer comes out clean (note: if you're using a gas oven, the cake may take 15-30 minutes longer to cook). Cover the top of the cake with foil if it starts to darken too much.

  • Take out of the oven, and whilst it's still hot, use a skewer to make about 10-12 holes all over the cake.

  • Pour the 4tbsp cherry brandy all over the top of the cake.

  • Leave the cake to cool in the tin. then remove it and wrap in a double layer of baking parchment and then in a double layer of foil. Place in an air tight container at room temperature.

  • Feed with 1-2 tbsp cherry brandy once a week up until a few days before you marzipan and ice the cake.