After soaking your fruits overnight it’s time to bake them into a cake. A fruit cake such as this is really fruit held together with cake, rather than a cake containing fruit as it’s very densely fruited. The cake mix itself is still very flavoursome in its own right as it contains mixed spice, black treacle, brown sugar and little nuggets of almonds.
It’s important to line the base and sides of the cake tin with greaseproof paper as this stays on the cake right up until you are ready to ice it, and helps keep it moist. Once you have prepared your cake mix, added your boozy fruits and spooned it into the tin it’s a good idea to create a little hollow or dip in the centre of the cake as this then compensates for the normal doming effect during baking and you should end up with a lovely flat surface on which to decorate later – we don’t want any wastage!
The wonderful rich and spicy aroma given off by the cake permeated throughout the whole flat, making it smell very festive. Once baked, it’s drizzled with a little extra Brandy before being wrapped and stored away to mature for several weeks. All you need to do now is nurture it by ‘feeding it’ once a week with a few extra teaspoons of Brandy – which helps keep it moist and develop in flavour.
Christmas Cake Mix
For an 8inch/20cm round cake
225g plain flour
1 ½ tsp mixed spice
40g ground almonds
40g blanched almonds
165g soft brown sugar
165g butter or margarine
1 tbsp black treacle
1 lemon - zest
(Your pre-soaked mixed fruit)
1 ½ tbsp Brandy
Grease and line bottom and sides of an 8 inch tin with greaseproof paper, allowing the paper to rise a little way above the rim of the tin.
Pre heat the oven to 140oC.
Measure the lemon rind, flour, mixed spice, ground almonds, sugar, butter, treacle and eggs into a very large bowl and mix together. Beat it for 3 minutes until mixture is smooth. (It will be quick stiff)
Roughly chop the blanched almonds and add to the mix along with the soaked fruits. Mix everything together using a spatula, making sure the fruit is evenly distributed.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing down gently and smoothing the surface. Then create a little dip in the middle to compensate for doming in the oven which should result in a flat surface when baked.
Bake the cake for 2 hours and 45 minutes. (After 2 hours you can quickly cover the tin with foil if it is becoming too brown before baking for a further 45 minutes).
Check the cake with a skewer, which should come out clean.
Measure out the ‘feeding’ Brandy into a small bowl and prick the top of the cake all over with the skewer. Evenly drizzle over the Brandy using a teaspoon.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin before removing from the tin but leaving the greaseproof paper on.
Wrap it up well in clingfilm and leave in a cool place to mature for several weeks. Feed once a week with a few more teaspoons of Brandy until required.