On the first day of Christmas

Since we're a month out from Christmas, it's definitely time to get the baking started. Sadly I've misplaced my favourite Christmas cake recipe, so I've done a bit of investigating, relied a little bit on memory, and have come up with a recipe that should do the job.

In the past I've included dried apricots and apples in my fruit mix. The fruit combination really comes down to personal preference. My breadwinner would prefer I made one without any dried grape products. We shall have to wait and see how his luck runs with that.

Dark fruit cake

500g currants
200g sultanas
200g raisins
100g mixed peel
100g dates
100g prunes
250ml brandy
250ml dark tea
250g butter
250g brown sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
225g plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1 tspn ground cloves
1 tspn ground nutmeg
3/4 tspn ground ginger
3/4 tspn ground cardamon
1 tbspn treacle

Method

Chop the prunes and dates finely. Combine with remaining fruit. Cover with brandy and cooled tea and soak overnight. Preheat the oven to 150 Celsius. Grease and line a 20cm square pan. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder and spices. Add around a third of the eggs to the butter mixture and mix well. Follow with a third of the flour mix, stirring to combine. Add the remaining eggs and flour alternately until all combined. Add the treacle to the fruit mix and stir through. Fold the fruit into the cake batter, ensuring even distribution. Place the batter in the prepared pan, hollowing out the centre to allow for rising. If you're not planning on icing the cake, decorate with blanched almonds, otherwise leave plain. Bake for 3 hours before testing with a skewer. If the skewer comes out clean, the cake is done. If there is any batter on the skewer, reduce the heat to 110 Celsius and bake for another 15 minutes. Leave the cake in the pan until completely cooled. For a deliciously boozy cake, poke small holes in the cooled cake and sprinkle extra brandy over the top.

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