You will need to start your preparation the day before baking this cake. Soaking the fruit allows it to plump up and produces a deeper flavour. This cake can be made up to three months in advance of eating, if necessary.
|1 cup||Pitted prunes|
|1½ cups||Ginger beer|
|1¼ cups||Brown sugar|
|½ tsp||Baking powder|
|1 tsp||Mixed spice|
Glazed fruit and nut topping
|2 cups||Dried fruit, such as apricots, prunes, glace cherries, to decorate|
|½ cup||Apricot jam|
- Place dried fruit in a bowl, pour over ginger beer, cover and leave to soak overnight. Next day, line an 18cm square cake tin with three layers of baking paper.
- Heat oven to 140 degC. Place the softened butter and brown sugar in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the almonds (chopped and blanched) and the soaked fruit.
- Stir in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.
- Bake for 2 3/4; to 3 hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the cake tin before removing. Wrap and store (see tips) and decorate before serving.
- To decorate, arrange dried fruit and nuts in desired pattern on the surface of the cake. In a saucepan, heat apricot jam and brandy together and stir until smooth to make glaze. Paint the glaze over the fruit and nuts and leave to set.
The cake tin is lined with several layers of baking paper to protect the cake from over-browning during its long cooking time.
Traditional Christmas fruit cakes are best made in advance - usually in late october or early November - so the cake can mature in flavour by Christmas.
Feed the cake with brandy at about weekly intervals by making holes all over cake with a skewer, then spooning over brandy to soak in through the holes and permeate the cake.
To store, wrap cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper, then wrap again in tinfoil or place in an airtight tin. Don't wrap it in plastic food wrap or the cake will sweat and deteriorate.