Unless you’re Delia, there’s no hope of getting the Christmas cake started in September, no matter how good your intentions. If you’ve left it to the last minute, never fear, try this whack-it-in-a-tin recipe. It’s just as good, honest.
» 100g dried apricots
» 100g prunes
» 1kg mixed dried fruit
» 100g flaked almonds
» 150g walnuts
» 100g maraschino cherries
» 125ml brandy
» Finely grated zest and juice of two lemons
» Zest of one orange
» 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
» 1 tbsp mixed spices
» 100g fresh root ginger
» 250g unsalted butter
» 250g dark muscovado sugar
» 6 medium eggs
» 300g plain flour
For the topping
» Apricot jam
» Royal icing sugar
Christmas Cake – Method
Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin. Wrap brown paper around the tin with string, this is crucial to get the cake to bake evenly. Roughly chop the dried fruits and combine with the brandy, lemon and orange zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, all of the spices and grated root ginger in a bowl. Leave to rest for two hours.
Preheat oven to 160°C. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Lightly beat the eggs and add gradually, beating continuously until the mixture is smooth.
Slowly fold in the fruit and nut mixture into the flour. Pour into the tin and level. Putting a slight dent in the centre will stop the cake from forming a dome.
Bake for 2 ½ hours, until the surface is firm or a skewer comes out clean from the centre.
Turn out and leave to cool. Remove the greaseproof paper when ready to decorate.
Cover with apricot jam and apply marzipan that has been rolled out to 1cm thick, repeat for the icing layer.
Decorate with fruit, nuts, ribbons or icing sugar figures.
Et voila: Last-minute Christmas cake!