Leave it for an hour, then, without opening the oven door, turn down the heat to 150 C/gas mark 2 and continue cooking for 2 hours.Check to see whether the cake is done by inserting a skewer into the centre.350g butter175g light muscovado sugar175g dark muscovado sugar1kg total weight of dried fruits - prunes, apricots, figs, candied peel, glacé cherries5 large free-range eggs100g ground almonds150g shelled hazelnuts500g total weight vine fruits - raisins, sultanas, currants, cranberries5 tbsps brandyzest of 1 lemonzest and juice of 1 orangetsp baking powder350g plain flour You will also need a 24-25cm cake tin with a removable base, fully lined with a double layer of lightly buttered greaseproof paper or nonstick baking paper, which should come at least 5cm above the top of the tin. While the butter and sugars are beating to a cappucino-coloured fluff, cut the dried fruits into small pieces, removing the hard stalks form the figs.Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time - it will curdle but don't worry - then slowly mix in the ground almonds, hazelnuts, all the dried fruit, the brandy, the citrus zest and juice.The rain is torrential, bouncing off the kitchen roof for the fourth afternoon in a row.The house painters have jumped ship, declaring the scaffolding boards too wet, the kitchen is still a tangle of exposed wires and gas pipes (though it now has a radiator for the first time).Over the years, I have worked at my Christmas cake and pudding recipes probably more than any other.
Too short and you have a dip in the middle you could rest a mug in.It should come out with just a few crumbs attached but no trace of raw cake mixture.Take the cake out of the oven and leave it to cool before removing it from the tin.I want to make my cakes with the real thing: unadulterated, unrefined cane sugar.
The best result comes from using two sorts: unrefined muscovado, both the light - which has the flavour of warm fudge - and the dark that tastes of treacle toffee.
So it is not as if we are tampering with anything sacred.