Snowy Christmas fruit cake
450g raisins 240g sultanas 160g dried currants 160g medjool dates, pitted and chopped 140g slivered almonds 180ml brandy, plus 2-3 tbsp extra 250g unsalted butter, softened 220g light brown sugar 4 medium eggs 335g plain flour, sifted ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda, sifted 1½ tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground allspice WHITE ICING + ON TOP 320g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting 1-1½ tbsp boiling water gingerbread snowmen (see Cookies on Top, page 59), for decorating twigs, for decorating (optional)
Place the raisins, sultanas, currants, dates and almonds in a large bowl. Add the brandy, mix to combine and cover with clingfilm. Allow to soak in a cool dark place overnight, mixing occasionally.
Preheat oven to 140C/gas 1. Line a 20cm round cake tin (10cm deep) with 2 layers of nonstick baking paper. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed for 8 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Set aside.
Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and allspice to the soaked fruit and mix well, ensuring the fruit is evenly coated with flour. Add the butter mixture and stir until well combined. Spoon into the tin and smooth the top. Bake for 2 hours or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
Spoon over the extra brandy while the cake is still warm. Allow to cool completely in the tin.
To make the icing, place the sugar and water in a medium bowl and mix to combine. Turn the cake out on to a cake stand or plate. Spoon on the icing and smooth with a palette knife. Dust the snowmen with sugar and place on the cake. Add decorative twigs to serve, if wished.