As-you-like-it Christmas cake
- Preparation and cooking time
- Cook: -
- Plus overnight soaking
- Cuts into 10-12 slices
- 1kg mixed dried fruit (any blend of raisins, sultanas, currants, mixed peel, dried cranberries, glacé cherries, chopped dried apricots, dates, dried figs or dried pineapple)
- 150ml sherry, brandy, rum or brewed tea, plus extra for feeding
- zest and juice 2 oranges, 2 lemons or 4 clementines
- 250g pack unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for the tin
- 250g light, soft brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 200g plain flour
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 100g whole or flaked almonds, chopped hazelnuts, walnuts or brazil nuts (optional)
- STEP 1
Put your chosen dried fruit mixture into a large bowl with your choice of alcohol or tea, citrus zest and juice. Mix well, cover and leave overnight.
- STEP 2
Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Butter and double-line a deep cake tin – 20cm round or 18cm square – with enough baking parchment to come about 2.5cm above the top of the tin. Wrap the outside of the tin with a few sheets of newspaper, securing with staples or string.
- STEP 3
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy, then beat in the eggs one by one. Tip in the flour, mixed spice, soaked dried fruit and any liquid from the bowl, plus your chosen nuts, if using. Stir everything together, then scrape into the cake tin. Using the back of your spoon, make a slight dent in the centre of the mixture, then bake for 1½ hrs.
- STEP 4
Reduce oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1, loosely cover the top of the cake with a double sheet of foil or baking parchment, and bake for another 2 ½ - 3 hrs or until a skewer poked right to the bottom comes out clean. Cool in the tin, then lift out and wrap in greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Keep in a cake tin with a tight-fitting lid, or wrapped in a large sheet of foil, in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. Open the cake every week or two to feed by poking with a skewer in several places and dribbling over a little more of your chosen alcohol or tea.