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Christmas Cake

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

Prep Time: 30 minutes plus overnight soaking
Cook Time: 3 hours
Serves: 8
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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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