Rich Fruit Cake

175g raisins
350g glace cherries, halved 
500g currants
350g sultanas
150ml brandy, plus extra for feeding
2 oranges, zest only
250g butter, softened
250g dark muscovado sugar 
4 large free-range eggs 
tbsp black treacle
75g blanched almonds chopped
275g plain flour
1½ tsp mixed spice
500g Marzipan (optional)
500g Icing (optional)

For the cake, place all the dried fruit, and almonds into a large mixing bowl, pour over the brandy and stir in the orange zest. Cover with clingfilm and leave to soak for three days, stirring daily.

Grease and line a 23cm/9in deep, round tin with greased greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 140C/120C Fan/Gas 1.

Beat the butter, sugar till fluffy,

Add the eggs and treacle and beat in well 

Add the flour and ground spice and mix thoroughly until blended. 

Stir in the soaked fruit. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.

Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for about 4-4½ hours, or until the cake feels firm to the touch and is a rich golden brown. 

Check after two hours, and if the cake is a perfect colour, cover with foil. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. Once cool feed with the remaining brandy.

Once fed over a few days top with the marzipan then the icing if using.

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