The day before you wish to bake the cake, it is important that you soak the fruit overnight for best results. Place the orange and lemon zest, orange juice, brandy, dried mixed fruit, candied peel, cherries and spices together in a bowl and mix well. Cover with cling film and leave overnight to infuse. You can also prepare a 20cm cake tin by lining the bottom and sides with a double layer of greaseproof paper. When you are ready to mix the cake, place the unsalted butter or margarine and the soft brown sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and pale. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, adding in a tablespoon of the flour with the last 2 eggs. Sift in the remaining flour and fold in gently, followed by the blanched almonds and the soaked fruits. Place the fruit cake in the prepared cake tin and even out. Bake in the oven at 150`c for approximately 2-2 ½ hours. To check that the cake is cooked, a skewer inserted into the center should come out clean. Remove the fruit cake from the oven and allow to cool down completely before removing from the cake tin. Wrap the cake in foil or cling film and leave to mature for at least 2-3 weeks before decorating with marzipan and icing.

Serves 20

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