Rich and dark, this wonderful cake is not just for Christmas but is also excellent for a small wedding or christening cake, or indeed just to have as a cut-and-come-again cake.

Serves:  12-16            

Prep time: 1½ hours

Cooking time: 3½ hours

For the Cake

  • 12 tbsp whisky or brandy
  • 1 medium orange, juiced & zested
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 2 level tsp mixed spice
  • 450g (1lb) raisins
  • 225g (8oz) dried cranberries
  • 110g (4oz) prunes, roughly chopped
  • 50g (2oz) glacé cherries, halved, rinsed, dried & finely chopped
  • 110g (4oz) chopped candied peel
  • 50g (2oz) blanched almonds, roughly chopped
  • 250g (9oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 125g (4½oz) Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 125g (4½oz) Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Dark Muscovado Cane Sugar
  • 250g (9oz) self-raising flour
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • ½ level tsp salt

For Feeding the Cake

  • about 225ml (8floz) whisky or brandy

For the Decoration

  • 3 rounded tbsp smooth apricot jam
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) white marzipan
  • Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Icing Cane Sugar, to dust
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) white fondant icing
  • a few silver edible cake pearls
  • edible cake glue or Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Icing Cane Sugar & water

You will also need a 20cm (8”) round cake tin, greased and the base and sides lined with a double thickness of baking parchment, plus a double thick layer for covering the top, a 25.5cm (10”) round cake board, a  6cm (2½”) snowflake cutter, ribbon and glass-headed pins.

Combine the whisky or brandy, the orange juice and zest, vanilla, 1 tablespoon of Lyle’s Golden Syrup and the mixed spice in a large saucepan, and shake to mix.  Add the raisins, cranberries, prunes, cherries, candied peel and nuts. Stir, bring to just under the boil, then reduce the heat down to a simmer and gently cook for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the fruit has plumped up. Leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 140°C/120° Fan, 275°F, Gas 1 with the shelf set on the middle.

In a large mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon, cream together the butter, Lyle’s Golden Syrup and the Tate & Lyle Dark Muscovado Sugar, then add the flour, eggs and salt and mix well until smooth. Next, stir in the fruit mixture until well combined.

Spoon into the prepared cake tin, level the surface with the back of the spoon and make a gentle hollow in the middle which helps prevent the cake from peaking too much. Bake for 3 hours then cover with the parchment paper. Bake the cake for a further 20-30 minutes or until the centre springs back when lightly touched.

Cool the cake in its tin for 30 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling and peel off the paper. If you have the time you can feed the cake with whisky or brandy at intervals over a month to enrich it. Poke holes in the cake with a fine skewer or cocktail stick and then drip about 2 tablespoons of the alcohol over the top each time. Wrap in foil between feeding the cake and store in an airtight container where it will last for up to 3 months.

Transfer the cake to the board.

Heat the jam and water in a small pan for 2-3 minutes, stir to combine, then brush all over the cake.

Roll out the marzipan on a surface dusted with Tate & Lyle Icing Sugar to slightly larger than the cake. Cover the cake, cut away the excess and leave out to dry. One day later, repeat using the fondant.

Thinly reroll the excess fondant – you should have about 95g (3½oz) left. Stamp out 8 snowflakes with the cutter dipping it into a little Tate & Lyle Icing Sugar each time. Use the edible ‘glue’ to stick the snowflakes around the edge of the cake. Alternatively mix 1 tablespoon of Tate & Lyle Icing Sugar with a drop of water to make a ‘glue’ and use instead. Using the ‘glue’ stick the silver balls onto the snowflakes. Leave to dry for a minimum of 2 hours before storing in an airtight container.

Wind the ribbon around the base of the cake, cut to fit and secure with pins and serve.