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Make & mature Christmas cake

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  • 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)

  • zest and juice 1 orange

  • zest and juice 1 lemon

  • 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding

  • 250g pack butter, softened

  • 200g light soft brown sugar

  • 175g plain flour

  • 100g ground almond

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • 2 tsp mixed spice

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • ¼ tsp ground cloves

  • 100g flaked almonds

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • STEP 1Put 1kg mixed dried fruit, the zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon, 150ml brandy or other alcohol, 250g softened butter and 200g light, soft brown sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat.

  • STEP 2Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.

  • STEP 3Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.

  • STEP 4Add 175g plain flour, 100g ground almonds, ½ tsp baking powder, 2 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground cloves, 100g flaked almonds, 4 large eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour.

  • STEP 5Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.

  • STEP 6Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.

  • STEP 7To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it.

  • STEP 8Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.

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