Tip the sugar, butter, dried fruit, whole
cherries, ginger, orange zest and juice
into a large pan. Pour over the rum,
brandy or juice, then put on the heat and
slowly bring to the boil, stirring frequently
to melt the butter. Reduce the heat and
bubble gently, uncovered for 10 mins,
stirring every now and again to make sure
the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom
of the pan. Set aside for 30 mins to cool.
Stir the nuts, eggs and ground almonds
into the fruit, then sift in the flour, baking
powder and spices. Stir everything
together gently but thoroughly. Your
batter is ready.
Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2.
Butter and line a 20cm round tin with
baking paper. Spoon the cake mix into
the tin and level the top with a spoon
dipped into boiling water. Bake for
45 mins, then turn the oven down to
140C/120C fan/gas 1 and bake for
1 hr-1 hr 15 mins more or until a skewer
inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack. The un-iced cake will
keep wrapped in foil for 2 months or will
freeze for 1 year.
To decorate the cake, thickly roll out
the ready-to-roll icing on a surface lightly
dusted with icing sugar and stamp out
ivy shapes with a cutter. Leave for a few
hrs or overnight on baking paper to dry,
then rub the surface of the leaves with
some of the gold or silver lustre.
Brush the top and sides of the fruit
cake liberally with apricot jam, then
drape the marzipan over the cake.
Smooth over the surface with your hands
to give a snug fit, then trim away the
excess marzipan with a sharp knife.
Lift the cake onto a serving plate.
Make up the fondant icing to a
spreading consistency, then swirl over
the cake to a rough iced effect. Decorate
with a cross of ribbon and the ivy leaves
while the icing is still wet so that they
stick in position, then leave to set.