Traditionally a cake made by girls in service for their Mothers on Mothering Sunday, not only as a gift but as an indication of their baking skills. Nowadays it is eaten as an Easter cake.
200g (7 oz) plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
175g (6 oz) butter
175g (6 oz) light soft brown sugar
1 lemon, grated rind
4 eggs, beaten
55g (2 oz) ground almonds
700g (1lb 9 oz) mixed fruit with peel
85g (3 oz) glace cherries, quartered
55g (2 oz) blanched almonds, chopped
700g (1lb 9 oz) white almond paste
1 egg white or 1 tbsp apricot jam
Makes 1 x 20cm (8 inch) cake
1. Butter and line a 20cm (8 inch) round cake tin. Sift the flour and the spices together. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and gradually beat in the eggs and lemon rind, adding some flour towards the end to avoid the mixture curdling.
2. Fold in the remaining flour and ground almonds, then the fruit, cherries and chopped almonds. Place half the mixture into the cake tin. Roll out a quarter of the almond paste and lay on top of the mixture and press down lightly, spread the remaining fruit cake mixture on top and level.
3. Place the cake tin on the grid shelf set on the floor of the baking oven for 20 minutes then transfer to the simmering oven – sit the cake tin on the large grill rack – for about 5 hours. If your AGA does not have a baking oven, bake for about 5-6 hours on the grid shelf placed on the floor of the simmering oven.
4. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for an hour, then remove from the tin and peel off the paper. Cool completely.
5. To decorate; roll out half the remaining almond paste to fit the top of the cake. Brush the top of the cake with egg white or warmed apricot jam and press the almond paste into place, crimp the edges.
6. Take the last of the almond paste and form eleven balls and attach these to the cake with a little egg white. Lightly brush the almond paste with egg white and place towards the top of the roasting oven to lightly brown, about 3-5 minutes.