Exotic fruit and spice cake

Exotic fruit and spice cake
  • Serves icon Serves 8-10
  • Time icon Hands on time 1 hour, 2½-3 hours baking time, plus soaking and decorating

This exotic fruit and spice cake takes a while to make – but it’s really worth it! A great recipe for an autumn party.

Ingredients

  • 75g each soft dried apricots, figs, pitted Agen prunes, pitted dates, mixed candied peel
  • 425g can pineapple in natural juice, drained and the juice reserved
  • 75g each raisins, currants, natural-coloured glacé cherries
  • Finely grated zest of 1 small orange
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp grated fresh nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g brazil nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 100g Billington’s Dark Muscovado Sugar
  • 185ml dark rum
  • 175g softened butter
  • 75g Billington’s Molasses Sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 175g each plain and self-raising flour

For the marzipan

  • 225g Billington’s Golden Caster Sugar
  • 225g Billington’s Golden Icing Sugar, sifted
  • 450g ground almonds
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 tsp dark rum
  • 6 tbsp marmalade, warmed and sieved

To decorate

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 500g Billington’s Golden Icing Sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tsp liquid glucose
  • Whole glacé fruits, cut into pieces
  • Fresh bay leaves

Method

  1. Cut the apricots, figs, prunes, dates, peel and pineapple into pieces the same size as the raisins. Put in a saucepan with the raisins, currants, glacé cherries, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, nuts, 1 tablespoon of muscovado sugar, the rum and the reserved pineapple juice. Heat, then simmer very gently, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Transfer to a bowl, cool, then cover with cling film and leave to soak in the fridge overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Grease and double-line a deep 20cm round cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Beat the butter with a wooden spoon until very soft. Gradually beat in the rest of the sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, adding a dessertspoonful of the plain flour with the last egg. Sift the remaining plain flour with the self-raising flour and fold into the creamed mixture with the soaked fruits.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, making a slight dip in the centre with the spoon. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature 150°C/fan130°C/gas 2 and bake for a further 2½ – 3 hours, or until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin, then remove from the tin. Wrap in a double thickness of foil, put in an airtight tin and leave for up to 1 week before icing. You can freeze it at this point, if you like.
  5. To make the marzipan, mix both sugars in a large bowl with the almonds. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and rum and add to the dry ingredients. Mix very well to form a paste and knead until smooth.
  6. Stand the cake on a board or a flat plate. Brush the cake all over with the marmalade. Roll out the marzipan on an icing sugar-dusted surface to a circle large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake. Lift onto the cake and smooth the top and sides. Trim the edges neatly. Leave overnight to dry out.
  7. For the icing, lightly beat the egg whites in a large bowl. Add the icing sugar a little at a time, stirring continuously, until you have a stiff icing that stands in peaks. Beat in the glucose. Use a palette knife to spread the icing all over the cake giving a slightly swirled finish. Arrange the glacé fruit and bay leaves on top. Decorate with a ribbon.

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