- 225g currants
- 200g glacé cherries
- 175g sultanas
- 115g dried cranberries
- 225g dried apricots, chopped
- 115g blanched whole almonds, roughly chopped (optional)
- 175ml brandy
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 100g soft brown sugar
- 150g caster sugar
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 225g plain flour
- 225g ground almonds
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- ½ tsp salt
- Grated zest of
- 1 orange
- Grated zest of
- 1 lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Put all the dried fruit and the almonds (if using) in a large bowl. Pour over the brandy, and stir to coat the fruit. Cover the bowl, and leave the fruit to steep until you are ready to use it (if you are super organised then steep overnight before baking the cake).
- Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F/Gas 2) and line the base and sides of a deep 23cm round cake tin with a double layer of non-stick baking paper.
- Put the butter and the two sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until light and fluffy (this usually takes about 5 minutes on medium speed). Add the eggs a little at a time with the mixer still running; mix until well incorporated.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients and the brandy-soaked fruits and mix on a low speed until well combined.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top gently. Cut a double layer circle of non-stick baking paper the same size as the top of the cake and cut a hole in the middle. Place on top of the cake. Place a wide strip of brown paper around the outside of the cake tin and tie with string.
- Put the cake on the bottom shelf of the preheated oven and bake for about 3 hours. Check whether the cake is done by inserting a skewer into the centre; it should come out clean. If the skewer is sticky, return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack and remove the baking paper.
- When the cake is completely cool, you are ready to ice.
Decorating your Christmas cake
Don't be put off by the thought of decorating your Christmas cake. Miranda Gore Browne, brings you her top tips for simple decorating:
- rim off the top of your cake, spread the cut edge with runny honey or warmed apricot jam and turn the cake upside down so the bottom becomes the top. Stick onto a round cake board or the cake plate you are using.
- You will now have a lovely flat top to your cake. Roll out a piece of white marzipan and carefully place the cake tin you baked the cake in on top, cut around with a sharp knife, this will give you a perfectly-fitting disc to go on to your cake. Use a little more of the honey or jam to stick the marzipan onto the cake.
- Mix up your royal icing. I use a box of ready-mixed royal icing sugar (add water to mix) or you can use icing sugar with egg white to make your own. Beat until stiff peaks form (like meringue) – this takes about five minutes in a standard mixer.
- Spoon a generous amount of icing on top of the cake, smooth with a palette knife (or butter knife).
- Pick a bunch or rosemary or edible flowers and herbs from the garden, tie with a ribbon and pop on your cake. Leave the sides of the cake plain or tie with a wide velvet ribbon.