This simple Christmas cake takes just 55 minutes to make, and 5 hours to cook.
- 300g butter or margarine
- 300g soft brown sugar
- 1 large lemon (finely grated rind of)
- 1 eggs beaten
- 300g plain flour
- 2 tbsp. black treacle
- 50g ground almonds
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 675g mixed dried fruit
- 100g glace cherries halved
- 75g blanched almonds chopped
- 2-3 tbsp. brandy sherry or fruit juice
- 4 tbsp. apricot jam warmed
- 450g ready made white marzipan
- 450g ready to roll fondant icing
- Red and green food coloring
- 100g icing sugar.
- Set oven to 150C.
- Grease and line a 23cm (9″) cake tin with a double thickness of greased greaseproof paper. Cream butter or margarine with the sugar and lemon rind until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs a little at a time with 1 tbsp flour. Beat in black treacle. Fold in the remaining flour together with the ground almonds spices, dried fruit, cherries, blanched almonds and brandy, sherry or fruit juice. Mix to a soft dropping consistency, adding if necessary a little extra brandy, sherry or fruit juice.
- Turn into the prepared tin, smooth over the top and make a small hollow in the centre to help ensure the cake remains flat.
- Bake on the centre shelf for 5-5.5 hours or until cooked.
- To test if cooked insert a skewer in centre of cake. When it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. If top is browning too quickly cover with greaseproof paper. When cooked, remove from oven, leave until cold, remove from tin, wrap and store in an airtight tin until 1 week before using.
- During storage time, if liked, prick base lightly then pour over 1-2 tbsp. brandy or sherry, 2 or 3 times.
To Decorate The Cake:
- Warm jam with 2 tbsp. water, sieve then use to brush top and sides of cake.
- Roll out half marzipan on a surface dusted with icing sugar to a 26cm(10″) circle. Place cake upside down on it and, using a palette knife, press paste round cake to make a neat edge.
- Turn cake the right way up. Roll out remaining marzipan to a 7.5cm(3″) wide strip. Cut a piece of string to fit round the side of the cake. Cut out paste to this length. Fix in position, make joins neat.
- Place on cake board and leave for 2 days.
- Knead fondant gently on a lightly cornfloured surface, roll out to a 35cm(14″) circle. Wrap around rolling pin and place on cake. Trim edges neatly to the base. Smooth top and sides using your fingertips dusted with cornflour
- Using icing crimpers, make a decorative pattern round top edge. Paint with red food colouring diluted with water.
- Knead trimmings with little green food colouring, and use to cut out holly shapes. Mix 100g icing sugar with 3 tsp.water and a few drops of red food colouring.
- Place in piping bag fitted with No1 writing nozzle. Pipe a design on top of the cake and decorate with holly leaves fixed with a little icing or beaten egg white.
Secure a band of red ribbon around the cake to make it look festive before serving.