Christmas cake

Unlike many Christmas cake recipes, this doesn't have to be made weeks in advance. You can use whatever combination of dried fruits that you like and ice as you wish!

Makes a 23cm cakePrep: 1 ½ hours, plus cooling and setting timeCook: 2 hours

Ingredients

For the cake:

1kg mixed dried fruit100g glace cherries, halved50g ground almonds100g raisins or currants300g plain flour1 level tsp grated nutmeg½ level tsp mixed spice½ level tsp ground cinnamon300g soft baking margarine300g caster sugarFinely grated rind of 1 lemon6 eggs1-2 tbsp brandy

To decorate:

Icing sugar to dust675g marzipan6 tbsp apricot jam, warmed and sieved600g ready prepared royal icingSelection of Christmas cake decorations of your choiceEquipment: 23cm cake tin (round or square)

Method

  • Preheat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2.

  • For the cake: Grease and line the base and sides of a 23cm cake tin (any shape).

  • Put in a bowl mixed fruit, cherries, ground almonds and raisins or currants.

  • Then add to the bowl flour, nutmeg, mixed spice, cinnamon - this will help coat the fruit.

  • Beat together the margarine and sugar with electric mixer. Add the lemon rind and beat in. Add eggs, beat in one at a time.

  • Use a wooden spoon to fold the mixed fruit and flour mixture, half at a time to the egg mixture.

  • Add the brandy.

  • Turn into prepared tin and smooth the top.

  • Bake in the oven for approximately 2 hours, until the cake smells strongly. Then test by poking a dry skewer into several places in the cake. If it is cooked then it should come out clean without any mixture sticking to the skewer.

  • Let it cool in tin, then turn out onto a rack.

  • Pierce again with skewer in several places and sprinkle a capful of brandy over the top.

  • Wrap in greaseproof paper and tin foil and store in an airtight container.

  • Sprinkle again with a capful of brandy a week later (called “feeding” the cake) but if you have not got time it does not matter.

  • To decorate: Dust the work surface with icing sugar. Roll out half the marzipan 4-5 mm thick and cut out to approximately a 23cm diameter circle to cover the top of the cake. Roll out the remaining marzipan and cut a strip as wide as the depth and length of the cake, to cover the entire side of the cake. Lightly re-roll the marzipan strip.

  • Brush the marzipan circle with apricot jam. Place the cake upside down onto the circle. Trim to fit. Place a cake board or plate or plate on top and flip over.

  • Brush the sides of the cake with more apricot jam. Unroll the marzipan strip and ease and wrap around the side of the cake, trimming to fit. Smooth the marzipan with a fondant smoother if you have one, or gently smooth with icing sugar dusted hands. Neaten the joining edges.

  • Pile the royal icing over the top of the cake spreading evenly over the top and sides of the cake swirling with a palette knife. Use a smaller palette knife to ice the bottom of the cake. Take a teaspoon to pull up swirls and create a snow scene effect.

  • Leave to set a little before decorating with cake decorations of your choice. When fully set 12-24 hours later add a ribbon to finish it off.

TIPS

This cake can be made at the last minute and does not need to be made weeks in advance.

Use a combination of whatever dried fruit you have.

When making the cake it is perfectly fine if the mixture splits.

Royal icing sugar is readily available in most supermarkets, follow the pack instructions to make. Pre made royal icing will make decorating even faster.

Use marzipan trimmings to make decorations for the cake if liked.