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Eric Lanlard's Purist Christmas Cake

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Dish type: Dessert

Serves 8
Preparation time: overnight soaking, + 25 minutes
Cooking time: 3½–4 hours

Ingredients
350g (12oz) golden sultanas
350g (12oz) raisins
¼ bottle brandy
350g (12oz) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
200g (7oz) good-quality dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
200g (7oz) dark soft brown sugar
100g (3 ½ oz) molasses sugar
4 large eggs
300g (11oz) plain flour, sifted
2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
finely grated rind and juice of 3 lemons
150g (5oz) chopped mixed peel
100g (3½oz) glacé cherries
50g (2oz) walnut halves
50g (2oz) shelled whole hazelnuts, roasted

Method
1. Soak the sultanas and raisins in about 150ml (5fl oz) of the brandy ina covered bowl overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 150ºC(fan 130ºC)/300ºF/gas mark 2. Greasea 20cm (8in) diameter deep cake tin with extra butter and double line the base and sides with enough baking paper that the paperstands a little above the sides of the tin.

3. Put the chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl that fits over a pan of gently simmering water (the base must not touch the water), and stir until it melts. Leave to cool slightly.

4. In the bowl of your blender/processor, using the power beater attachment, cream the measured butter and the sugars together at high speed, until the mixture is light, pale and fluffy.

5. Add the melted chocolate and then the eggs, mixing them in at a slower speed.(Add a little flour if the mixture looks like it may split.) Scrape down the sides occasionally, and mix until everything is incorporated and well blended.

6. Sift on the flour and spices, followed by another 150ml (5fl oz) of the brandy along with the lemon rind and juice. Mix together well then stir in the fruit and nuts gently, without breaking the cherries or walnuts.

7. When combined well, spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface. Cover the top with a disc of baking paper and bake in the preheated oven for 3½–4 hours or until a thin-bladed knife inserted comes out clean.

8. Let the cake cool down in the tin, and then turn it out on to a wirerack. Peel off the lining paper and pour on some more brandy (there will be a bit left in the bottle) while still warm.

9. When cold, add somemore brandy to taste, then wrap in clingfilm and store in a cool dryplace until ready to be decorated. This cake can be stored in an airtight tin for up to six months – but make sure you feed it regularly with brandy.

Taken from Home Bake by Eric Lanlard and published by Mitchell Beazley. Photography by Craig Robertson

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