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The perfect Christmas gift for you or a loved one
The night before you want to make the cake, tip the dried cherries, raisins, sultanas and mixed peel into a bowl and pour over the cherry brandy. Leave overnight to soak.
Heat the oven to 150C/130C fan/ gas 2. Butter a deep 20cm square cake tin, or two loaf tins. If using a square tin, you will need to divide the tin into two sections. To do this, first cut out a 40cm-long piece of foil-lined baking parchment, or lay a 40cm-long sheet of baking parchment over the same-sized sheet of foil. Fold in the middle to create a divider that is at least as high as the tin, which, when arranged inside it, will create two 10cm-wide sections. Fit it neatly, parchment-side up, and trim it if you need to.
Beat the butter and sugar together using an electric whisk or in a stand mixer for a few minutes until slightly pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour between each addition. Sift in the remaining flour, the cocoa powder and cinnamon, then beat to combine. Fold in the chocolate, ground almonds and soaked fruit (including any leftover brandy in the bowl). Spoon half the mixture into each section of the cake tin. Bake for 1 hr 20 mins-1 hr 50 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool fully in the tin, then remove to a plate or board.
To decorate, roll out the marzipan until it’s about ½cm thick, and large enough to cut out two rectangles that are the same size as the top of each cake. Warm the apricot jam briefly to loosen, either in a small pan set over a low heat or in the microwave in short bursts (or simply stir), then brush this over the cakes. Lay a rectangle of marzipan over each cake, then push down gently to help it stick. Brush the top of the cake with more of the apricot glaze, then decorate with the almonds, glacé cherries and pistachios, lightly pressing them into the marzipan. Will keep for up to two weeks in an airtight container.