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Rachel Allen's Christmas Cake

Recipe bySarah

225g (8oz) sultanas
225g (8oz) raisins
110g (4oz) candied peel, chopped
75g (3oz) stoned dates, chopped
75g (3oz) dried apricots, chopped
50g (2oz) currants
25g (1oz) crystallised ginger, finely chopped
125ml (4fl oz) brandy or Irish whiskey
275g (10oz) butter, softened
275g (10oz) soft light brown sugar
5 eggs
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
50g (2oz) ground almonds
275g (10oz) plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

23cm/9 inch round cake tin or 20x20cm/ 8x8 inch square cake tin

1. Place the dried fruit and the crystallised ginger in a bowl. Pour on the brandy or whiskey and allow to soak for at least 2 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F), Gas mark 2. Line the cake tin with greaseproof paper and wrap a collar of brown paper around the outside, which will help prevent the cake from drying out.

3. Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Stir in the orange zest and ground almonds, then sift in the flour and spices and fold in gently. Fold in the dried fruit and any brandy or whiskey left in the bowl. Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin. Bake in the oven for 21/2-31/4 hours (a round tin will take longer) until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cover the cake, still in the tin, with foil and allow to cool. Once the cake has cooled, remove it from the tin and cover again in foil until you are ready to cover it with marzipan & icing



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