Ho, ho, ho! Get your taste buds singing with this scrumptious traditional Christmas fruit cake recipe. The best part? You can prepare it up to three months in advance. Just remember to ‘feed’ it with brandy regularly and let it mature for that extra oomph!
100 g (4 oz) red or natural glacé cherries 100 g (4 oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots 275 g (10 oz) currants 175 g (6 oz) sultanas 175 g (6 oz) raisins 50 g (2 oz) finely chopped candied peel ¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg ½ level teaspoon ground mixed spice grated rind and juice of 1 orange 50 g (2 oz) chopped almonds 3 tablespoons brandy 225 g(8 oz) plain flour 225 g (8 oz) softened butter 225 g (8 oz) dark muscovado sugar 4 large eggs 1 scant tablespoon black treacle TO FINISH Brandy, to feed 675 g (1½ lb) almond paste 675 g (1½ lb) fondant or ready-to-roll icing Steps to Bake a Rich Fruit Cake:
On the night before baking the cake, cut the cherries into quarters and snip the apricots into small pieces. Measure the fruits, chopped almonds, and spices into a large bowl, and mix in the brandy, orange rind, and juice. Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight.
Preheat the oven to 140°C/Fan 120°C/Gas 1. Grease a 20 cm (8 in) deep round cake tin, then line the base and sides with a double layer of baking parchment.
Measure the flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and treacle into a mixing bowl. Beat the ingredients well and then fold in the soaked fruits. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread it evenly with the back of a spoon. Cover the top of the cake loosely with a double layer of baking parchment.
Bake the cake in the preheated oven for about 4-4 ½ hours or until it feels firm to the touch. Check by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake and ensuring it comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin.
Once cooled, pierce the cake with a fine skewer at intervals and add a little brandy. Wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of baking parchment and then in foil. Store the cake in a cool place and feed it with brandy at intervals. Do not remove the lining parchment while storing, as it helps to keep the cake moist. Cover the cake with almond paste about a week before icing.
Cover the cake with fondant or ready-to-roll icing. Add any desired decorations to the top of the cake and tie a ribbon around the sides to finish.