This makes an 8” x 4” deep square cake. Weight approximately 3 lbs.12 oz. Or a 9” round cake. Because the fruit is soaked for several days before hand it is a moist cake and therefore doesn't have to be done months in advance of Christmas. However, I do 'feed' it by putting skewer holes in the bottom of the cake... putting booze (whatever you have used in the cake) into a tablespoon, resting the spoon on the cake and dragging it across the cake, distributing the booze over the bottom of the cake as I go. Do this as often as you think necessary... it depends how early you have made the cake.
MethodSoak fruit in alcohol in airtight container for four days (or as long as it takes for you to get round to making it!!). Keep shaking it occasionally.
Add cherries, candid peel and nuts.
Cream the butter and sugar, add grated rind.
Beat in treacle and eggs and essence (I do this in the Kenwood so that I can beat the eggs in at high speed). If they curdle, just add a bit of the flour.
Sieve dry ingredients (flour, mixed spice and baking powder) in a bowl then add ½ flour. Now fold in by hand, soaked fruit and remaining flour.
Put mixture into an 8 inch loose bottomed lined tin. Make a 'dish or hollow' in the top of the mixture so that when it cooks it will rise slightly and will be level on the top rather than domed. Wrap brown paper with string around the outside of tin to prevent cake getting too brown.
Bake Gas 2 or 325 F (I reckon that’s about 163 C) for 2 hours. Then Gas 1 or 300 F (about 149 C) for 1¼ hours but I don’t usually give it that long. 1 hour ish?
Marzipan: Brush melted (sieved) apricot jam on the cake before rolling out and putting on marzipan. You need 750g of marzipan. (A large 500 g block for sides and a smaller 250 g block for the top).
I usually allow a few days between marzipan and icing stage to allow it to dry out.
Royal Icing: 1 kg box of icing sugar and 4 eggs whites whisked until smooth and stiff (again I do this in the Kenwood). Bang the bowl on the work surface a few times to get rid of the air bubbles and allow to stand for a while (cover with a plastic bag to stop it drying out). Put the icing on the top and sides of the cake and smooth it out with a palette knife and then, using the tip of the palette knife, 'flick' the icing to create a snow effect. You can then create a sledge run with your knife diagonally across the cake. I decorate it with pine trees that I put icing on to make them look ladened with snow, a church, carol singers with lanterns and song sheets, a deer amongst the trees and a child tobogganing down the slide. Children love it... I would do something more sophisticated, but the family won't let me... it wouldn't be Christmas if I did. A tradition that I started some 30 years ago and is now cast in concrete.
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