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Christmas cake by Anthony Worrall Thompson

This won’t keep as long as a traditional cake, so make it a couple of days before Christmas

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Ingredients (Serves 20)

  • 1kg/21⁄4lb mixed dried fruit
  • 100g/4oz glacé cherries, halved
  • 150ml/5fl oz brandy or dark rum, plus 3 tbsp extra
  • 175g/6oz butter, softened
  • 10 tbsp Splenda Granulated
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 small orange
  • 100g/4oz ground almonds
  • 300g/11oz plain flour
  • 1⁄4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

For the icing

  • 4 tbsp apricot baking glaze or sieved apricot jam
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  • 500g/1lb 2oz marzipan
  • 800g/11⁄2lb ready-rolled icing

Method

The day before baking, put the dried fruit, cherries and 150ml/ 5fl oz brandy or rum into a large bowl. Stir well, cover and soak for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

The next day, lightly grease a 20cm/8in round cake tin and line with a double layer of greaseproof paper.

Preheat the oven to 160°C, 300°F, Gas 2.

In a very large bowl, beat together the butter and Splenda until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one by one, then stir in the treacle. Add the orange zest and juice and the ground almonds. Sift in the flour, salt and spice, then fold in using a large metal spoon. Stir in the soaked dried fruit.

Transfer to the cake tin and level with the back of a spoon. Bake for 2 hours, cover with two layers of greaseproof paper to prevent burning, then bake for a further 15 minutes. To check if it’s done, insert a skewer into the middle – it should come out clean. It not, cook a little longer. Leave the tin on a rack to cool completely, then remove from the tin and spoon over the 3 tbsp extra brandy or rum.

Warm the apricot glaze or jam then brush it all over the cake.

Dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out half the marzipan into a long strip. Trim to fit around the cake and place in position. Roll out the rest of the marzipan into a circle and fit over the top of the cake. Cover with clingfilm and leave for 24 hours.

Dust your work surface and a rolling pin with icing sugar. Roll out the icing until it’s large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake. Using your hands, smooth over the cake, then trim off any excess and decorate.



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