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Make a Christmas cake 4 weeks before the big day, as it gives the filling a chance to mature & combine.

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Ingredients

  • 350 g raisins
  • 275 g sultanas
  • 275 g currants
  • 4 tbsp brandy or port
  • 250 g butter, softened
  • 250 g dark muscovado sugar
  • 350 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 50 g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 50 g mixed peel
  • 100 g Glace cherries, halved
  • 100 g pecans, chopped
  • 125 g apricot jam
  • 2 to 3 tbsp water
  • extra glace fruits and pecans for decoration

Method

  1. Put the raisins, sultanas and currants in a large bowl and pour in the brandy and port. Leave to soak overnight. Next day, line and grease a 23cm (9 in) diameter cake tin. Tie a double thickness of brown paper around the outside to come about 4 cm (1 ½ in) higher than the cake. Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding some of the flour mixture with each egg. Beat in the remaining flour and almonds. Add mixed spice, cinnamon and lemon rind. Finally mix in dried fruit and nuts. Spoon into the tin and level. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 2 and a half hours (after 1 hour, cover the cake with greaseproof paper), or until the cake is firm to the touch and a skewer in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes. Turn out on to a wire rack and cool and then wrap in aluminium foil and store.
  3. To decorate, warm the jam and water in a saucepan, sieve and brush some over the cake. Alternatively simply warm the apricot glaze and use that instead.  Arrange the glace fruits and nuts and brush on more of the glaze. Finally tie a wide ribbon around the cake.
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