If you like rich fruit cake then try this recipe because the result is a mouth watering cake tasting as good as it looks. 24 hours before mixing the cake you can soak the fruit with brandy or whisky or fresh orange juice but this stage is not essential. My preference is whisky because it gives the fruit a deep flavour.
200g red or glace cherries
900g dried mixed fruit
100g chopped blanched almonds
1 lemon, zested
1 orange, zested
100ml brandy, for soaking (optional)
75g ground almonds
250g self raising flour
250g brown caster sugar or 250g dark soft brown sugar to give darker crumb to the cake
250g butter, softened
5 large eggs
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Using a sieve wash the cherries under cold water until the sticky preservative has been removed. Cut the cherries in half and pat dry on paper towel. When dry, roll the cherries in a little flour to coat them all over, this process helps to stop the cherries sinking to the bottom of the cake while it is baking.
Place the all the fruit, chopped almonds (reserve a few for decoration), lemon and orange zest into a bowl. At this stage you may wish to soak the fruit in the brandy for 24 hours, this is optional.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. Grease either a 18cm square tin or a 20cm round tin. Line the base and sides with a double layer of baking paper. Cut a double layer baking paper for the top of the cake to prevent browning or burning.
Combine the ground almonds, flour, sugar, butter and eggs in a large mixing bowl then beat together until smooth. Gently fold in the fruit and nut mix. Turn the mix out into the tin and smooth the top. To decorate the cake top with reserved almonds.
Bake in the preheated oven for 2 1/4 hours until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. To stop the cake top over browning place the prepare cover onto the cake top after one hour.
Place the cake onto a cooling rack and leave in the tin to cool. I usually leave the cake for 30 to 45 minutes before removing from the tin and peeling off the baking paper.
You might wish to change the fruits in the recipe, so consider reducing the quantity of mixed fruit and replacing with the same quantity of dried apricots.