STIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- 9oz/ 275g plain flour (all purpose)
- 1½ tsp mixed spice*
- 8 oz/ 250g butter, slightly softened
- 8 oz / 300g soft brown sugar
- 1 T black treacle (dark molasses )
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 68g /2½ ground almonds
- 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 13oz/325g currants
- 9oz/ 275g sultans (golden raisins)
- 5oz /150g raisins
- 3½oz / 100g mixed candied peel, finely chopped
- 3½oz / 100g glacé cherries, halved
- 3½/ 100g blanched almonds
- 2 tbsp brandy, plus extra for feeding
- apricot jam
- 1½ lb almond paste or ready made marzipan
- Royal icing
Preparation:Heat the oven to 275°F/140°C/Gas 1
The temperature is low as the cake needs a long slow bake. It is packed with sugars, fruits and brandy and if the temperature is any higher the outside of the cake will burn and the inside be undercooked.
- Line a 9 inch cake tin with 2 thicknesses of parchment or greaseproof paper. Tie a double band of brown or newspaper paper around the outside. This acts as an insulator and to prevent the cake from burning on the outside. (don't skip this, it makes a big difference)
- In a large roomy baking bowl mix the currants, sultanas, raisins, peel, almonds, and cherries with the flour, salt and spices.
- In another large bowl cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the lemon zest. Add the beaten egg to the butter mixture a little bit at a time, beating well after each addition - do not try to rush this process as the mixture could curdle. If it does curdle simply add a tbsp of flour and mix again, this should bring the mixture back together. If it doesn't come back together, don't fret, the cake will still be delicious.
- Carefully fold in half the flour and fruit into the egg and butter mixture, once incorporated repeat with the remaining flour and fruit. Finally add the brandy.
- Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin making sure there are no air pockets. Once filled smooth the surface with the back of s spoon and make a slight dip in the center (this will rise back up again during cooking and create a smooth surface for icing the cake).
- Finally, using a piece of paper towel clean up any smears of cake batter on the greaseproof wrapping, if left on they will burn, and though it won't affect the cake, it doesn't smell too good.
- Stand the tin on a double layer of newspaper in the lower part of the oven, if you have a gas oven ensure the paper is well away from the any flame, and bake for 4 hours. If the cake is browning too rapidly, cover the tin with a double layer of greaseproof or parchment paper after 3½ hours. During the cooking time avoid opening the oven door too often as this may cause the cake to collapse.
- After 3½ hours check the cake is cooked. The cake should be nicely risen and a deep brown all over. Insert a skewer or fine knife into the center of the cake. If there is sticky dough on the skewer when you pull it out it needs cooking longer, if it is clean, the cake's done and remove from the oven.
- Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for an hour, then remove from the tin and leave to cool completely. Once cooled prick the surface of the cake with a fine metal skewer and slowly pour over 2 - 3 tbsp brandy. This feeding should be repeated every two weeks up until Christmas.
The cake should be stored wrapped in greaseproof or parchment paper in an airtight tin until ready to decorate. Shortly before Christmas, spread a thin layer of jam to help the marzipan stick to the cake. Roll out a 9" disk and place atop the cake. Let this air-dry for 24 to 48 hours. When dry to the touch, cover with royal icing - either smooth, or with fluffy peaks to resemble snow. Decorate with ribbons and Christmas ornaments.
*English mixed spice (a mixture popular in England to flavor cakes and other desserts. The proportions are: 2 t. allspice, 2 t. cinnamon, 2 t. cloves, 2 t. nutmeg, 2 t. ginger, 1 t. cardamom, 1 t. coriander)