Makes about 20 slices
500g golden sultanas
750g seeded raisins
250g crystallised ginger, cut into small pieces
250g glace green or red cherries, cut into pieces
250g chopped mixed candied peel
1 orange, finely grated zest only
250g blanched almonds, cut in half
½ cup rum
½ cup brandy or whiskey
500g butter, at room temperature
500g soft brown sugar
10 eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp coffee crema
1 tsp almond essence
1 tbsp lemon zest
5 cups plain flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cocoa
2 cups whole blanched almonds
¾ cup brandy
Put all the fruits and nuts in a large bowl, mix together and pour over the rum and brandy. Cover and leave overnight.
Preheat the oven to 135°C. Line the bottom and sides of a 25cm large, high-sided square cake tin or box with
one layer of brown paper and at least two layers of buttered baking paper.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the coffee crema, almond essence and lemon zest.
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add a quarter of the dry ingredients to the fruit mixture. Mix the rest of the dry ingredients with the butter mixture. Add this butter and flour mixture to the fruit and mix together well using your hands.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top and decorate the surface with whole blanched almonds.
Cook the cake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 5½ hours. When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and set the tin aside on a cake rack. Spoon over the extra brandy and allow the cake to cool in the tin.
Tip There’s no such thing as leftover cake; a good Christmas cake lasts for months. However, it can be used for cake balls, or truffles. Try toasted slices with poached pears and port wine sauce and lashings of mascarpone.