Masterclass Christmas cake
- 350g seedless raisins
- 300g sultanas
- 250g currants
- 100g glacé cherries, quartered
- 100ml brandy or rum, plus extra for 'feeding'
- 225g plain flour
- 2 tsp ground mixed spice
- 215g butter
- 215g soft brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 small orange, zest of
- 1 lemon, zest of
- 100g pecans (or almonds), finely chopped
Put all the dried fruit in a bowl with 100ml rum or brandy. Cover with cling film and leave for 1-2 days to soak, stirring occasionally. Line a 22cm-deep round or 20cm-deep square cake tin with 3 layers of baking paper. Pre-heat the oven to 150C/130C Fan/Gas 2.
Sift the flour and mixed spice together. Cream the butter and sugar together in another large bowl, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat well between each addition, adding a tablespoon of flour with each one.
Add the rest of the flour to the bowl along with the orange and lemon zest, the chopped nuts and the soaked, dried fruit, and any remaining soaking liquid. Stir until evenly mixed.
Put the mixture in the tin and level the top. Pat the top with damp fingertips, but don't make it wet – this helps to prevent the top becoming too hard as the cake bakes.
Wrap with brown paper and tie with string. Bake for 2 hours. Reduce the oven to 140C/120C Fan/Gas 1 and cook for 1 hour 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cover with a piece of baking paper after 2 hours if it's browning too much.
Cool on a rack but don't remove the baking paper as this helps keep the cake moist when stored. Once cold, store in an airtight box. Every week, pierce with a skewer, drizzle over 1 tbsp rum or brandy, then re-store. Repeat until ready to ice.