In this version, I have stacked two cakes on top of one another (pictured right). I have used a 9in square with a 7in square on top, but feel free to make one cake in the same manner. Happy festive baking!
YOU WILL NEED
110g cherries, chopped into pieces
110g mixed peel
Grated zest of two lemons
110g almonds, nibbed or chopped
4 tbsps brandy
300g butter, softened
300g dark brown sugar
5 large eggs
350g plain flour
110g ground almonds
1½ tsps mixed spice
¾ tsp nutmeg
1½ tbsps treacle
Pre-heat the oven to 130°C/ 250°F/Gas Mark ½. You must begin by preparing the cake tin.
You need to line the inside of a 10in round or 9in square cake tin with a double layer of parchment and the outside with a layer of brown paper, in order to allow slow entry of heat into the cake.
It is vitally important to spend time lining your cake tin correctly.
Next, you need to put all of the dried fruit, the lemon zest and the chopped almonds into a large bowl and mix in the brandy. Cover and leave to infuse for 24-48 hours.
To make the cake
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs into the mix.
Sift the flour, ground almonds and spices together, then add to the creamy butter mixture, mixing thoroughly. Next, mix in the treacle and combine well.
Finally, you need to fold in the dried fruit which has been soaking. The mixture will get quite firm, but do persevere at this stage.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth it all out across the top.
Bake the cake mixture for three-and-a-half hours, or until the mixture starts to come away from the side of the tin.
The cake should have a little spring when pressed in the centre to indicate that it is cooked. Allow to cool completely in the tin. Pour additional brandy over the top of the cake if desired.
For an almond icing
YOU WILL NEED
110g icing sugar
110g caster sugar
225g ground almonds
1 large egg, beaten
6-8 drops of lemon juice
Sift the icing sugar, caster sugar and ground almonds together. Add in the beaten egg and lemon juice and use them to bind the mixture.
Knead the mix together (similar to pastry) and wrap it tightly in cling film, then store in the fridge until required.
To ice the cake
YOU WILL NEED
Fruit cake (see above)
Apricot jam, boiled
Icing sugar, for dusting
Almond icing (see above)
Shop-bought sugar-paste icing
Turn the fruit cake upside down on to a cake board or serving platter. Brush the entire surface of the cake with boiled apricot jam.
On a work surface well-dusted with icing sugar, roll out a piece of almond icing to fit the top of your cake, then long strips to cover all around the sides of the cake.
Dust the surface of the cake with icing sugar and use both your hands and your rolling pin to smooth the surface of the cake. Leave the cake to dry out overnight.
The next day, roll out the shop-bought sugar-paste icing as directed. Spread over the cake and again, as with the almond icing, smooth out with your hands and keep rubbing it to obtain a smooth shine.
Tips: I used a little red food colouring to colour some of the icing and make a ribbon out of some leftover strips of the icing – I just folded some on top to make a bow of sorts. Play around with the decoration to get it the way you want, using either Christmas decorations, fresh flowers or handmade decorations.
Brush the almond icing with water to stick the white icing to the cake.
This is the same recipe and process of decoration I use for wedding cakes.