This is a moist rich fruit cake. The soaking of the fruit is optional, but desirable, and you can replace the brandy with whisky or rum or cold tea. I usually use Earl Grey tea with a generous 3 tablespoons of brandy.
The fruit mix can also be varied according to taste. This year I happened to find a jar of prunes soaked in brandy lurking at the back of the cupboard, so these were added, along with the soaking liquid as part of the fruit mix. A rather indulgent addition – but then a Christmas cake is all about indulgence. I also add plenty of spice – again the choice of spice and amount is a matter of taste. Most recipes recommend 1½ teaspoons for this size of cake, I just prefer a little more.
- 250g butter
- 125g light muscovado sugar
- 125g dark muscovado sugar
- 1000g dried fruit – prunes, candid peel, sour cherries, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, apricots, figs (the large fruit cut into pieces)
- 3 large eggs
- 65g ground almonds
- 100g almonds or hazelnuts ( chopped, but not too small)
- zest and juice of an orange
- zest of a lemon
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 250g plain flour
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon mixed cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg
- Soak the dried fruit in a mix of cold tea and brandy ( you will need about 350-450ml in total). Cover and leave for 24 hours. If it looks to dry after a few hours add a little more. The amount of liquid needed depends on the fruit you use.
- Line a deep 20cm cake tin, with removable base, with a double layer of baking parchment (greaseproof paper). Ensure the paper is about 5cm above the top of the tin
- Set the oven to 160°C (non-fan).
- Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
- Add the eggs one at a time (don’t worry if it curdles)
- Add the almonds, nuts, citrus zest and juice, fruit mix and 3 tablespoons of brandy. The fruit should have absorbed the soaking liquid, if not drain first and retain the liquid. You may need it if the resulting cake mix is a little dry or you can substitute it for the brandy.
- Mix the flour and baking powder and fold into the cake mix.
- Place in tin, smooth top and put in the oven.
- Bake for 1 hour than reduce the oven temperature to 150°C and bake for another 1½ hours.
- If it starts to look too brown on the top, cover with a sheet of foil or paper
- The cake is done when an inserted skewer comes out clean
- Leave to cool in the tin.
- When cold, wrap in plenty of foil and place in a tin and keep in a cool place.
- Feed every week by spiking the cake with a fine skewer and drizzling with brandy.