Snowy Christ­mas fruit cake

SERVES 16-24

The Mail on Sunday - You - - Food Festive Bakes -

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.

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