A bold claim I realise, but definitely the best one I have made so far. Tasty, not so crumbly you can’t slice it but still plenty of fruit and very more-ish!
Just remember to make it at least a month before Christmas if not two in order to have time to ‘feed’ the cake and allow the marzipan to dry after applying it. Also remember you need to soak the dried fruit the night before you intend to bake this cake.
- 9oz/250g sultanas
- 4oz/100g currants
- 14oz/400g raisins
- 6oz/170g glacé cherries
- 3oz/75g mixed peel
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 orange
- Freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon
- 3floz/80ml sherry
- 6oz/175g butter (room temperature)
- 1oz/25g black treacle
- 6oz/175g dark muscovado sugar
- 3 medium free range eggs, beaten
- 1oz/25g glycerine
- 8oz/220g plain white flour
- 1 tsp/4g mixed spice
- ½ tsp/2g ground cinnamon
- 1½oz/40g ground almonds
1. The day before, place the dried fruits in a large bowl with the lemon and orange zest. Pour the lemon juice and sherry over and stir the fruit well until thoroughly mixed and evenly coated in the juices. Cover with clingfilm and leave to stand overnight.
2. The next day, line the base of an 8in/20cm deep cake tin with a disc of baking parchment. Place a “collar” of baking parchment around the inside of the tin. Heat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark 1.
3. Put the soft butter into a large bowl with the treacle and sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
4. Take the beaten egg and beat it a bit at a time into the butter mixture. If the mixture curdles add a tablespoon of the flour. Next stir in the glycerine and then sieve over the flour and spices. Finally, add the ground almonds and gently fold everything together.
5. Tip in the soaked fruit and again fold through the mixture until it is evenly blended. Place the mixture in the prepared baking tin and level off.
6. Bake for approximately 2 hours until the cake is golden brown in colour and baked through the middle. (You may need to cover the top of the cake three quarters of the way through baking to protect it from burning – use a folded piece of baking parchment or piece of card.)
7. When it is baked, remove the tin but leave the baking parchment sticking to the sides and base. Allow to cool.
8. When the cake is completely cold, prick the top, pour over a couple of tablespoons of sherry and allow it to soak through.
9. The cake should then be wrapped in a clean sheet of greaseproof paper, followed by foil, and placed in an airtight tin somewhere cool and dry. ‘Feed’ the cake with more sherry each week until approximately 2 weeks before you want to eat the cake.
A week after you stop feeding the cake, you can cover it in marzipan and then decorate it. To do this:
- pack of marzipan (or make your own if you feel very enthusiastic!)
- 2 tbsp seedless apricot jam
- icing sugar (to dust)
1. Boil the jam and then let cool. Use a pastry brush to spread the boiled, cooled jam over the cake (it needs to be boiled to prevent mould forming). Remember to put the cake on a thick cake board or plate as it will be very heavy by the time you are done!
2. Sprinkle icing sugar on a clean work surface and roll out the marzipan to about 3-5 mm thickness, trying to keep it as round a shape as possible.
3. Use the rolling pin to help you lift the rolled out marzipan and drape this carefully over the jam covered cake. Using your hand gently smooth the marzipan over the cake, and trim the edges with a knife. The marzipan will be covered with icing, so if you need to patch any gaps don’t worry, it won’t show in the end.
4. Leave uncovered to dry for a few days.
5. Finally its time to ice the cake and decide how to decorate it!
For this cake I covered it in a pack of royal icing, but with a tea spoon of glycerine to stop it going too hard and brittle.
To make the trees:
- fondant icing
- green food colouring
- Use green fondant icing, or use green food colouring to dye white icing. Form cone shapes by rolling in your hands.
- Leave to firm up a little (it will be quite soft from the heat of your hands), then use scissors to snip into the tree, starting at the top and working your way round to the bottom to form the tree detail.
- Leave to firm up again (for an hour or so) and then carefully place them on the cake.
- Dust with icing sugar for a snowy effect.
Have fun baking and decorating and generally getting into the festive spirit!
(all photo credits miss suzylee)