This show-stopper of a Christmas Cake makes a change from the more traditional icing and marzipan decoration.
225g (8oz) plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
225g (8 oz) butter
225g (8 oz) Muscovado sugar
6 large eggs, beaten
85g (3 oz) ground almonds
625g (1lb 6oz) mixed fruit, currants, sultanas and raisins
115g (4 oz) mixed chopped peel
55g (2 oz) crystallised pineapple, chopped
55g (2 oz) dried cranberries
85g (3 oz) dried apricots, chopped
85g (3 oz) crystallised papaya pieces, chopped
115g (4 oz) glacé cherries cut into quarters
3 tbsp brandy
1. Line the base of a 23cm (9 inch) round spring form cake tin. (There is no need to put any paper around the outside of the tin)
2. Sieve the flour and the spices together. Cream the butter and sugar well together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, which should be at room temperature, adding a tablespoon of flour to prevent curdling towards the end.
3. Fold in the remaining flour, ground almonds and fruit until thoroughly mixed. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top.
4. Place the cake tin on the grid shelf on the floor of the simmering oven and cook for about 5½-6 hours until cooked. (For an AGA R5 Series 4-oven place the cake tin on a grill rack on the floor of the simmering oven).
5. Test with a skewer; if a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, it is cooked. Or if the cake has stopped 'singing' it is an indication of doneness. Leave in the tin for 30 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool. Prick the surface of the cake with a skewer and spoon the brandy over. Wrap in foil until required. Decorate with glacé fruits and nuts, brush with apricot glaze to give a shiny finish.