Dark, fragrant Christmas cake packed with fruit and nuts

12 servings
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By Food24 November 03 2009
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Ingredients (22)

400.00 g currants
175.00 g raisins
175.00 g sultanas
175.00 g cherries
75.00 g dates — chopped
125.00 g dried cranberries
125.00 g almonds — flaked
10.00 ml oranges — zest only
5.00 ml cinnamon — ground
5.00 ml allspice — ground
5.00 ml nutmeg — ground
30.00 ml orange flower water
75.00 ml brandy
250.00 g butter — unsalted, softened
250.00 g muscovado sugar — or brown sugar
30.00 ml treacle sugar
4.00 eggs — lightly beaten
350.00 g flour — cake
1.00 ml Bicarbonate of soda
100.00 g almonds — whole
100.00 g cherries
150.00 g jam — apricot
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Preheat the oven to 150 &degC.
Line a 23 cm round, deep cake pan with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper, allowing a 5 cm collar to stick out.
Tie a double layer of brown paper with string around the outside and place the pan on a baking sheet.
Place the fruit, almonds, orange peel and spices in a bowl.
Add orange flower water and spirit of your choice.
Make sure the fruit is well moistened. Leave to stand.
Cream the butter and the sugar until pale and soft.
Mix in the treacle, then beat in the eggs, a little at a time, adding a little flour after each addition to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Stir in the fruit (this is the time to make a wish).
Sieve the remaining flour with bicarbonate of soda and stir into the mixture.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.
Then make a slight hollow in the centre so that it will bake level.
Bake at the lowest level for three hours.
Lay a circle of greaseproof paper tightly over the cake if it browns too much, and turn down the oven temperature a touch.
The cake is cooked when a warm skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan.
When cold, remove from the pan. Prick the top of the cake with a cocktail stick and pour over a little extra spirit.
Wrap in greaseproof paper, then in tinfoil.
Store in a cool, dry place. Feed it from time to time with a little more spirit and rewrap.
To decorate the cake, melt the jam and brush over the cake.
Arrange the cherries and nuts on top and brush with more jam.

This cake gets more delicious over time, so ideally make it about a month before you plan to serve it.
Put a dish of water in the bottom of the oven to keep the cake from drying out.

Substitute some of the fruit for chopped dried fig, dried apricot or dried apple.
Substitute almonds for nuts of your choice, such as pecans or pine nuts.
Wrap thin cardboard instead of brown paper around the cake pan.
If you want a square cake, use a 20 cm square cake pan.
You can make the cake with half plain flour and half wholewheat flour.

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