Last-minute Fruit and Nut Cake

PREPARATION TIME: 1 hour
COOKING TIME: 1 hour 45 minutes
SERVES 20 EASY / PREPARE AHEAD


for the cake

250g (9oz) ready-to-eat dried figs 125g (4½oz) walnut halves zest and juice 1 large orange 2tbsp sweet sherry 100g (4oz) marzipan 175g (6oz) butter, softened 175g (6oz) golden caster sugar 3 free-range eggs, beaten 175g (6oz) sultanas 225g (8oz) plain flour 1tsp baking powder
for the decoration
50g (2oz) caster sugar 6 fresh bay leaves, washed and dried 2tbsp apricot jam 6 to 8 pecan nuts 6 Brazil nuts 6 dried apricots 4 dried figs 10 fresh cranberries
you will need
20cm (8in) round cake tin, greased and double-lined with greaseproof paper

1 Heat the oven to 170 C, 150 C fan, 325 F, gas 3. Roughly chop the figs and walnuts, place in a bowl and stir in the orange rind. Pour the orange juice and the sherry over the fruit. Chop the marzipan into small pieces and set aside.

2 In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well between each addition. Stir in the sultanas, then sift in the flour and baking powder. Stir in the marinated fruits and their liquid, and the marzipan pieces, and mix until thoroughly combined. Then carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Level the surface with the back of a spoon and bake for 1 hour. After that time, reduce the temperature to 150 C, 130 C fan, 300 F, gas 2 and bake for a further 30 to 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

3 For the decoration, put half the sugar in a pan with 1 tablespoon of water. Bring to the boil, stirring, then cool slightly. Brush over the leaves to coat completely. Sprinkle with the rest of the sugar and leave for a few minutes to dry. Warm the jam with a little water in a pan and brush over the cake. Arrange the bay leaves, nuts, dried fruits and cranberries on top, brushing with jam to help them stick together, taking care not to wipe sugar frosting off the bay leaves.

Per serving 315 calories, 16g fat (6g saturated), 42g carbohydrate

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