The Best Christmas Cake Ever!

I have adapted this from a Delia Smith recipe – messed about with the quantities and added a few things of my own – prunes, macadamia’s and an extra quantity of glace cherries. It is rich, moist and very moreish! Try and make it a few weeks ahead so that you can keep adding brandy every week until it’s ready for marzipan and icing.

12oz currants or 300g currants
8oz or 200g sultanas
8oz or 200g raisins
8oz or 200g glace cherries chopped into quarters with scissors
2oz or 50g mixed candied peel
5oz or 125g ready to eat prunes snipped into pieces with scissors
3 tablespoons brandy
8oz or 200g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice
8oz or 200g butter
8oz or 200g dark soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
4oz or 100g macadamia nuts chopped
grated rind of 1 lemon
grated rind of 1 orange

For the icing:
Apricot jam
Ready made icing
Silver cachous (those little silver balls for decorating)

You will also need:

Brown paper
Cake ribbon
Cake board

The night before you make the cake, place all the dried fruit and peel in a large bowl and mix in the brandy. Cover the bowl and leave to soak for at least 12 hours.

The next day – preheat the oven to 130 degrees fan forced. Line a 20cm (8 in) round cake tin or a 18cm (7 in) square tin with baking paper and give it a spray with some oil.

Sift the flour and spices into a mixing bowl and in a separate large bowl cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (this is important so don’t cut any corners!)

Beat the eggs and gradually add them to the creamed mixture, beating thoroughly after each addition -if it starts to curdle, add a little bit of the flour.

When all the egg has been added, fold in the flour and spices (don’t beat!).

Stir in the soaked fruit and peel and add the nuts, lemon and orange rind.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top.

Tie a band of brown paper around the outside of the cake and cover the top of the cake with a double square of baking paper (with a hole cut out in the centre the size of a 50 pence/cent piece).

Bake the cake in the lower shelf of the oven for 4 hours – resist opening the door until 4 hours have passed!

When the cake is cold, wrap well in baking paper and put in an airtight tin.

Every week, make some holes in the top of the cake with a skewer or needle and pour a few teaspoons of brandy in to soak into the cake.

A week before Christmas, buy some marzipan, a jar of apricot jam and some ready made icing.

The marzipan and icing packs will say how much you will need to cover a 18cm round or 17cm square cake.

Roll out the marzipan onto a surface dusted with sifted icing sugar until it is the right size to cover the cake.

Spread the surface of the cake with apricot jam – no pieces of apricot though – it needs to be smooth!

Place the rolled marzipan on top and smooth it over and trim the edges.

Cover the cake with the baking paper and place back into the airtight container to dry out for a few days before you do the icing.

When you are ready, roll out the icing onto a surface dusted with sifted icing sugar until it is the right size to cover the cake.

Place the cake onto a silver cake board.

Place the icing on top of the cake and trim the edges.

Obviously, you can decorate the cake however you like! I like to cut out star shapes with the leftover icing and overlap on top of the cake. I then put a silver cachous in the centre of each star. I then finish it off with a white, silver and blue patterned cake ribbon around the edge.

And that’s it! It is a bit of a labour of love but sooooo worth it!

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