500 grams raisins
500 grams sultanas
125 grams dried dates, chopped
150 grams glace cherries, diced
150 grams mixed peel
150 grams sliced or flaked almonds
2 teaspoons ground mace or nutmeg
1 teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or cloves
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon salt
grated rind of 2 oranges
1 cup brandy
500 grams butter, softened
500 grams dark muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
10 eggs, at room temperature
125 grams self-raising flour
500 grams flour
about 1 cup extra brandy, optional
1. Grease and line a deep-sided 25cm square cake tin with two layers of baking paper. Make sure the paper has no creases and the corners are as sharp as possible to ensure square edges on the cake.
2. In a large bowl, put the raisins, sultanas, dates, cherries, mixed peel, almonds, mace or nutmeg, mixed spice, cinnamon or cloves, white pepper, salt, orange rind and brandy and toss together well. Cover and leave to macerate overnight.
3. Place the oven rack in the lower section of the oven, but not at the bottom. Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
4. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla essence until it is very light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating very well after each addition.
5. Sift the flours on top of the creamed mixture and then add the fruit and mix gently. Use your hands, it will be much easier and gentler on the fruit cake mixture.
6. Pack the mixture firmly into the prepared cake tin and level off the top evenly.
7. Wrap the outside of the tin in about 6-8 layers of newspapers, folding where necessary to make them look tidy. Secure with string.
8. Bake in the preheated oven for 3½-4 hours. If the cake begins to brown too much, cover with a sheet of baking paper and a thick covering of newspaper.
9. Place the cake on a board, cover with a clean tea towel and leave in the tin overnight to cool.
10. Sprinkle about ¼ cup extra brandy over the top of the cake. Remove from the tin, keeping the cake in the baking-paper lining and wrap in greased paper and then in foil. Over the next month, continue to pour the brandy in ¼ cup lots over the cake and re-wrap well after each time.
11. Decorate as wished with butter icing or a more classic marzipan and fondant icing.
12. This recipe will make 4-5 small (12cm) cakes. Prepare the itns as above, but bake for 2-2½ hours. They are ideal Christmas gifts.
This is not an overly rich fruit cake. Though by cooking it with dark muscovado sugar you achieve a wonderful warm, mellow flavour. It is best made a month or two in advance to allow the cake to set - this ensure the cake will cut well.