Christmas Cake Method:
1. Put the
sultanas, raisins, glacé cherries, currants, peel, figs, apricots
and prunes in a large bowl and pour over the brandy and the orange
zest and juice from the orange. Mix together well and cover then
leave to stand overnight.
2. Line the
base of a 23cm or 9inch cake tin with a double thickness of parchment
paper or greaseproof paper. Now line the sides of the tin with
a double thickness of the paper, so that it comes 4-5cm above
the edge of the tin. Wrap a sheet of folded newspaper around the
outside of the tin and secure with string. Stand the prepared
tin on a folded sheet of newspaper on a baking sheet. Preheat
the oven to 150 degrees Celcius or 300 degrees Faranheight.
3. In a large
bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the flour if the
mixture starts to curdle. Add the fruit, its soaking liquid and
the nuts and mix well. Stir in the flour, taking care not to over
mix it. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the
surface with the back of a spoon. Bake for 3-4 hours or until
a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If the top
of the cake starts to get too brown, cover with a sheet of baking
parchment or greaseproof paper.
4. When the
cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and leave to cool completely
in the tin. Store the cake in an airtight tin, wrapped in greaseproof
paper and foil for between two and three months. Feed the cake
with brandy every 2-3 weeks until you are ready to decorate it.
5. Pass the
jam through a sieve and warm it in a pan with 1 Tablespoon of
water. Invert the cake onto a serving plate or board. Use a little
of the marzipan to fill any gaps between the cake and the plate.
Brush the jam all over the cake. Roll out the remaining marzipan
and lift carefully onto the cake, easing it around the sides.
Trim off any excess with a sharp knife.
6. Roll out
the ready-to-roll icing to a 0.5cm thickness and cut out as many
star shapes as you can, re-rolling the trimmings. Set aside on
parchment paper to harden. Meanwhile, make up the royal icing
according to the instructions on the packet. Spread the icing
over the cake to cover it, then roughly peak it using a spatula.
Arrange the stars on top and scatter over the silver balls. Leave
the icing to harden, then dust the cake with icing sugar.