This simple rich fruit cake bakes beautifully using the AGA simmering oven for a long gentle cook making a deliciously moist cake.
For the fruit:
1.25kg dried fruit (use a mix of currants, sultanas, raisins, soft dried apricots, finely sliced, candied peel and place cherries, rinsed and dried)
100g whole blanched almonds, thinly sliced
The zest of 1 lemon, grated finely
150ml brandy plus more for ‘feeding’
For the cake:
300g butter, soft
300g light brown soft sugar
300g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of salt
Icing and decoration:
3 tbsp apricot jam, boiled, cooled and strained
750g marzipan or more if you like a thicker layer
3 egg whites
A tsp lemon juice
700g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp liquid glycerine (to keep the icing soft)
This square 20cm (8”) cake will make 24 - 36 small pieces.
For this cake use a 20cm/8” square cake tin, greased and lined with baking paper.
- First put all the fruit and nuts in a bowl with the lemon zest and mix in the brandy. Set aside in a cool place overnight or for a few days.
- To make the cake, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and beat in the eggs one by one. Then fold in the flour, spices and milk with a pinch of salt. Fold in the fruit and nuts. Spoon into the prepared tin and make a shallow indent in the top of the cake. With a damp hand, smooth the top of the cake. This will help to give a flat smooth top to the cake when it rises a little during cooking.
- Bake in the AGA simmering oven for 9 - 12 hours or until a skewer comes out clean. The cake will be browned on the top and shrunk back from the sides of the tin.
- Cool in the tin then store for a few days or better several weeks or months to allow the cake to mature. Feed the cake every few weeks by inserting a skewer several times on the top and pouring over a tbsp or two of brandy, whisky or rum. Keep the cake wrapped in baking paper and foil.
- For the icing and decoration, warm the apricot jam on the back of the AGA, unwrap the cake and brush the top and sides with the warmed jam.
- Roll out the marzipan to fit the cake and smooth over the top and sides.
- To make the royal icing, whisk the egg whites until foaming, but not thick and white. Then, beat in the icing sugar, lemon juice and glycerine. Continue to beat until the icing is smooth and thick and will stand up in little peaks. Add more icing sugar or lemon juice if needed to give a thick butter spreadable consistency.
- Spread the icing over the cake and allow it to form into rough peaks for a rustic look. Add some pine cones, slices of dried orange, cinnamon sticks and some upside down rosemary sprigs for ‘Christmas tree' decoration.
Allow to dry out for 24 hours before cutting.