To toast the pecans, pre-heat the oven to 170C, gas mark 3 and then just spread them out on a tray and pop them into the oven near the centre for 8 minutes - use a timer to help you remember.
You can also watch how to do this in our Online Cookery School Video on the right.
Then once the pecan nuts have cooled use the dry paintbrush to gild half the toasted nuts and half the apricots. To do this dip the brush into the lustre and brush it all over one side of the fruits and the nuts. Use firm strokes of the brush and go over again and again until all of the top surface is bright shiny gold.
Then melt the jam with the brandy or Armagnac in a small saucepan, stirring until all the lumps have dissolved. Now, using a pastry brush, coat the top of the cake quite generously with it. Next arrange a single row of the nuts and apricots down the centre of the cake.
You can do any pattern you like but we have followed an order of pecan, gold pecan, apricot and gold apricot, then repeated this again and again (see photograph). Then we have simply repeated the rows either side of the central row but this time moved the position down slightly so the rows are irregular. When you get to the sides of the cake use a pair of scissors to trim the apricots so that they follow the line of the cake’s edge.
Finally brush all of the non-gilded apricots and nuts with apricot glaze. You can safely do all this well ahead of time – it stays looking good for up to a month.
For stockists of lustre visit Cakes Cookies and Crafts Shop