This is based on my really easy fruit cake recipe (see 29th Sept 2011). Soak the fruit overnight in something festive (eg brandy) or fruit juice to make the cake really moist. Make sure you have a decent cake board to use – I improvised by covering the cardboard from a four bottle pack of beer with silver foil, but it wasn’t really strong enough (the finished cake is very heavy). Decorate however you wish – keep it simple with a ribbon around the edge, or go all out with sparkles or a snow scene.

Ingredients:
4oz / 100g margarine
6oz / 150g sugar (any sort)
4oz / 100g dried fruit
8 fl oz water
1 tssp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tssp mixed spice
Whole nutmeg (grate to taste)
2 beaten eggs
8oz / 200g self-raising flour
500g ready to roll marzipan
Vodka
500g ready to roll icing
Decorations

Method:
Boil the margarine, sugar, fruit, water, bicarb and spices for about 10 minutes (until the marg is melted, the bicarb has stopped bubbling and the mix dark and glistening). Allow to cool for about an hour. Stir in the eggs and flour and mix well. The mix will be quite runny and lumpy – don’t worry! Pour into a prepared / silicone tin (I prefer a loaf tin for this recipe). Bake in the oven at 160 degrees for about 90 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean (after about 30 minutes place some greaseproof or brown paper over the top of the cake to prevent burning before it is cooked). Turn onto a wire cooling rack until cold.

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Transfer to a cake board. Dust a flat, clean surface and rolling pin with plenty of icing sugar and knead the marzipan (still in its packet) a little to make it pliable. Roll out the marzipan until it is the right size and shape to cover the cake (remember to cover the sides as well!). Carefully lift it onto the cake and smooth down. Trim the edges to neaten. If any holes appear, patch up (see bottom right of picture below).

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If using royal icing, leave the marzipan to dry overnight. If using ready to roll, there’s no need to wait. As with the marzipan, knead the icing in its packet, then roll out using lots of icing sugar to stop it sticking. Tip a little vodka into your hands and use to wet the cake all over (this helps the icing to stick). Carefully lift the icing and cover the cake. Trim the edges. To make a smooth shiny surface, wash and dry your hands well and rub the icing with your palms (honestly!).

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Decorate however you like. To make a pattern with silver balls, draw a template on a piece of paper; hold in place on the cake and use a cocktail stick to make holes where the balls will go;use the holes to push the balls into place.

Serve in thick slices. Enjoy!

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