75g/3oz blanched almonds, chopped
20g/1 tbsp black treacle
150ml/¼pt brandy or sherry, plus extra for feeding
250g/9oz butter, softened
500g/1lb 2oz currants
350g/12oz natural glacé cherries, halved, rinsed, and thoroughly dried
200g/4 free-range eggs
90g/3 free-range eggs, whites only
675g/1½lb icing sugar, sifted
36g/about 3 tbsp apricot jam, warmed and sieved
18ml/3 tsp lemon juice
675g/1lb 8oz marzipan
18g/1½ tsp mixed spice
250g/9oz light muscovado sugar
2g/2 oranges, zest only
250g/9oz plain flour
1) For the cake, place all the dried fruit into a large mixing bowl, pour over the brandy and stir in the orange zest. Cover with clingfilm and leave to soak for three days, stirring daily.
2) Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1.
3) Grease and line a 23cm/9in deep, round tin with a double layer of greased greaseproof paper. 4) Measure the butter, sugar, eggs, treacle and almonds into a very large bowl and beat well (Use an electric mixer if you have one).
5) Add the flour and ground spice and mix thoroughly until blended. Stir in the soaked fruit.
6) Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.
7) Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for about 4-4½ hours, or until the cake feels firm to the touch and is a rich golden brown. Check after two hours, and if the cake is a perfect colour, cover with foil
8) To check if cooked, insert a knife, it should come out clean.
9) Leave the cake to cool in the tin. When cool, pierce the cake at intervals with a fine skewer and feed with a little extra brandy.
10) Wrap the completely cold cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and again in foil and store in a cool place for up to three months, feeding at intervals with more brandy. (Don’t remove the lining paper when storing as this helps to keep the cake moist.)
11) The week before you want to serve, begin icing the cake.
12) For the icing, put the cake on a cake board which is 5cm/2in larger than the size of the cake. Brush the sides and the top of the cake with the warm apricot jam.
13) Dust a work surface with icing sugar and then roll out the marzipan to about 5cm/2in larger than the surface of the cake. Carefully lift the marzipan over the cake using a rolling pin.
14) Gently level and smooth the top of the paste with the rolling pin, then ease the marzipan down the sides of the cake, smoothing it at the same time.
15) If necessary, trim excess marzipan from the base of the cake with a small sharp knife.
16) Cover the cake loosely with baking parchment and leave for a few days to dry out before adding the royal icing.
17) For the royal icing, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they become frothy. Mix in the sifted icing sugar a tablespoonful at a time. You can do this with a hand-held electric whisk, but keep the speed low. Stir in the lemon juice and glycerine and beat the icing until it is very stiff and white and stands up in peaks.
18) To ice the cake, place all the icing onto the top of the cake. Spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake with a palette knife. For a snow-peak effect, use a smaller palette knife to rough up the icing. Leave the cake loosely covered overnight for the icing to harden a little, then wrap or store in an airtight container in a cool place until needed.