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Mix the fruit, zest, juice and sherry, and leave overnight to soak. Next day, heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Butter and double-line a deep, 20cm round cake tin. Wrap the outside with brown paper or newspaper and secure with string, as this will protect the sides from overcooking.
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds together until pale and creamy. Mix the flour, ground almonds and mixed spice together, then tip into the butter mix with the eggs. Beat until combined and smooth. Stir in the whole almonds, fruit and any leftover juices, turn into the tin, then smooth the top and make a dip in the middle. Bake for 1½ hrs.
Turn down the oven to 140C/fan 130C/ gas 2, then bake for 1½ hrs more until dark on the top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, or with a few damp crumbs clinging to it. Once cool enough to handle, turn onto a cooling rack and peel away the lining paper. Cool completely.
Keep the cake well wrapped, then feed once a fortnight with 1-2 tbsp sherry. Poke holes into the cake with a skewer and slowly spoon over the sherry. If you don’t have time to do this, this cake is delicious freshly made, and can be covered and decorated as soon as it has completely cooled down.
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