It's time to get your festive aprons and tea towels out and ready to use!
This delicious rich fruit cake makes a fabulous celebration cake for Christmas, with or without icing.
You can make it up to about 10 weeks before Christmas as it will mature really well. And I've also made it a few days before the big day, and it's been just as delicious!
Use a 20cm (8 inch) round cake tin with a loose bottom.
Please note! You need to soak the fruit for 24 hours before you make the cake.
175g raisins (Feel free to vary the mix of dried fruit above as long as you end up with the equivalent weight)
50g glacé cherries, chopped
50g mixed candied peel, chopped
4-5 tablespoons of brandy
225g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
225g unsalted butter
225 soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
70g chopped almonds
1 dessertspoon black treacle
1 grated lemon rind
1 grated orange rind
a large handful of whole (blanched) almonds to decorate
METHOD- 24 hours before making the cake
Place all of the dried fruit and candied peel into a large bowl. (Not your biggest bowl, save that to make the cake in!) Add the brandy and stir. Cover with a festive tea towel for 12-24 hours to allow the fruit time to soak up the brandy.
THE NEXT DAY Pre-heat the oven to 50°C only
Put the tin of treacle in the oven to warm up slightly, so it's easier to use. Or place in the warming draw.
You will need 2 medium sized bowls and 1 large bowl.
Grease your cake tin and line with grease proof paper. Cut your grease proof paper and brown paper that you will need at the end to cover the cake for the oven. See how here 👉
Sift the flour, salt and the spices into the 1st medium sized bowl.
Into the 2nd medium sized bowl beat the eggs. Into the large bowl, add the sugar and the butter. Cut the butter into cubes in the bowl. Then pop into the slightly warm oven for a few minutes to soften the butter.
After you have removed your bowl with the butter and sugar from the oven
Pre-heat the oven to 140°C, Fan 120°C, gas 1
Beat the butter and the sugar together until it is pale and creamy. This is a really important step in the cake, so don't cut it short!)
Now a tablespoon at a time add the beaten egg to the butter and sugar. Do this as gradually as you can so the mixture doesn't curled too much. Ever now and again add a spoonful of the flour mixture, as this helps the eggs combine with the butter and sugar.
Next step, fold in the flour mixture with a spatula. Add 1 heaped tablespoon first and then add in bigger quantities.
Stir in all the fruit that has been soaking in brandy, as well as the chopped almonds, treacle, grated lemon and orange rinds. See my treacle tip here 👉https://youtu.be/pUoQAGGXuVI
Spoon the cake mixture into the tin and spread evenly with your spatula creating a smooth top.
Arrange the whole almonds on the top in a pretty pattern. This means if you don't have time to ice the cake, it will have some decoration on it! Or if you don't really like to icing (like me) this is a good alternative.
Over the cake with 1 circle of grease proof paper and 1 circle of brown paper. Both need to have a hole cut into the centre so the steam can come out.
Then tie a collar of brown paper around the outside of the cake tin.
Bake in the oven on the lowest shelf for 4 1/2 -5 hours. Don't be tempted to take a peek until at least 4 hours have passed.
Your cake is ready when it's a beautiful dark golden brown colour.
To test your cake to see if it's done, press the top of the cake and it will spring back. Place a metal skewer into the cake and it will come out clean. Although as there is so much fruit in this cake, it can be a bit tricky to tell!
Leave to cool in the tin for say 15 minutes. Then remove from the tin and place on a wire rack.
When completely cool wrap in greaseproof paper and keep in an airtight tin until it's time to ice the cake in the run up to Christmas.
I don't feed my cake as I think it makes it too alcoholic. If you would like to every couple of weeks, unwrap the cake. Make some holes in the top with a skewer and pour over a few teaspoons of brandy. These will soak into the cake. Don't feed the cake the final week if you want to ice it, so the outside of the cake is dry.
In this recipe Beccy used