Laura Bentley's Christmas Cake
1kg mixed dried fruit
150g glace cherries (halved)
300g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
300g butter (softened)
250g brown sugar
½ lemon (zested)
6 eggs (beaten)
3 tbs Brandy
1. Heat oven to 150 C. Line a 9 inch cake tin with baking paper (I also put mine on an oven tray with foil underneath tin to prevent the bottom from burning)
2. Mix the dried fruit with the cherries, flour, salt, and spices.
3. In another (big) bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir through lemon zest.
4. Add small amount of beaten egg to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition.
5. Once all egg is added, fold in half the flour and fruit and once mixed repeat with the remaining flour and fruit.
6. Stir through the brandy.
7. Put mixture into tin and push it down slightly to make sure there are no air pockets.
8. Bake for 4 hours and then check that the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the middle. It should come out clean. If not, bake for 30 minute increments until cooked.
9. Let the cake cool for an hour in the tin. After an hour place it on a wire rack until completely cool. Once it is cooled, prick the top a few times with a skewer and add a couple of lid fulls of brandy before putting it in a air tight container.
* Soak your dried fruit and cherry mix overnight (or for a week) in the brandy. Makes the fruit fuller and moist.
* If you notice the cake is browning too quickly you can cover it with a piece of baking paper or foil.
* The cake is so high in sugar from both the fruits and the brown sugar that it needs to be cooked on a low heat for a long time. Too high and it will burn.
* You can make smaller cakes, just adjust the time accordingly. I make smaller round cakes and they only take around 2 hours to cook.
* Once a week I will open up my cake container and pour another couple of lids of brandy onto the cake, in those same spots you pricked when you made it. I let it dry for five minutes and then put it away again.
* Cake can be made up to 8 weeks before Christmas if you store correctly.