The cake can be made two or three weeks before Christmas. Store it in a tin in a cool place until needed.
4 tblsp rum, brandy or sherry
115g (4oz) glace cherries, quartered
115g (4oz) cup raisins or sultanas
115g (4oz) dried apricots, quartered
115g (4oz) prunes, stones and quartered
115g (4oz) stoned and chopped dates
115g (4oz) butter
115g (4oz) soft dark brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
2 eggs, beaten
50g (2oz) ground almonds
115g (4oz) coarsely chopped walnuts
225g (8oz) self-raising flour
2 tblsp rum, brandy or sherry
4 tblsp apricot jam
Whole blanched almonds, split
3 glace cherries, halved
Few strips angelica
Makes 1 ring
Step One : The day before you want to bake the cake, put the rum, brandy or sherry in a large mixing bowl and add all the dried fruit. Cover the bowl with clear film and leave overnight in a cool place so that the fruit is well soaked. Meanwhile, grease a 23cm (9in) ring mould, with a 1.5 litre (2 ½ pint) capacity.
Step Two : The next day, preheat the oven to 160oC / 325oF / Gas 3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the butter, sugar and spices together until they are light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs, and then fold in the soaked fruits, with any of the remaining liquid. Mix the ground almonds and chopped walnuts into the bowl and sift in the flour and mix until combined.
Step Three : Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Level the top of the mixture with the back of a spoon and bake in the preheat oven for 1 ½ – 2 hours. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Brush the cake with the rum, brandy or sherry.
Step Four : Put the apricot jam in a small pan and heat it gently to melt it. Sieve the jam. Brush the hot glaze over the top of the cake. Arrange the nuts and fruit in a flower design on top of the cake and brush them liberally with more apricot glaze. The glaze must be used very hot, or the decoration will lift while you are brushing the jam over it.
More sweet Christmas treats can be found in this book …