This rich fruitcake serves 50-80 if you use it for a wedding or a christening, but it can be cut into larger pieces. It is delicious eaten straight away, or poked with a few holes and fed with brandy. My gran likes to leave it to mature for four weeks before feeding generously.
170g glacé cherries, halved
170g candied peel
560g plain flour
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tbsp cocoa powder
450g butter, softened at room temperature
½ orange and ½ lemon, zested
450g golden caster sugar
½ tbsp black treacle
8 large eggs
The night before, pour 75ml of the brandy over the fruit, cover and leave to sit, letting the fruit soak up the alcohol.
Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Line a deep, 25cm square cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside, so that it comes about 2.5cm above the sides of the tin, and secure with string.
Sift the flour, spices, cocoa powder and 1/2 tsp salt together. Mix 1/3 of this mixture into the soaked fruit. Cream the butter, zests and sugar until light and fluffy, stir in treacle, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Fold in half the remaining flour mixture. Once mixed, fold in the fruit mixture followed by the remaining flour mixture.
Spoon into the prepared tin, smoothing the top with a palette knife. Bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs 30 mins, checking the cake with 15 mins to go. When a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, it’s ready.
Leave to cool in the tin for 30 mins then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. To store, peel off the baking parchment and wrap well in clingfilm. Will keep for three months.