Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1.
Line the base and sides of a 20cm cake
tin first with a double layer of brown
paper, then with a double layer of baking
parchment. In a large bowl, mix the fruit,
almonds, peel, figs and cherries. Turn well
and add the flour, spices and lemon zest.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and
sugar thoroughly, then add the vanilla
extract, honey and treacle. Still beating,
incorporate the eggs, then stir in the fruit
and flour mixture. Dissolve the bicarbonate
of soda in the milk and stir in thoroughly.
Add the brandy by the spoonful, until you
have a soft dropping consistency.
Turn the batter into the cake tin and
make a dip in the middle using the back
of a spoon. Bake for 3½ hrs, then insert a
skewer – if it comes out clean, it’s ready.
If there is any cake mix on the skewer,
give it 10 mins more and test again.
When it’s done, remove the cake from the
oven and leave to cool in its tin. The next
day, remove from the tin, wrap in fresh
greaseproof paper, then put it into an
airtight tin or wrap tightly in foil. The usual
thing is to keep the cake for at least a
month before icing it, and to unwrap and
sprinkle it occasionally with more brandy.