This is our favourite recipe, developed over several years, and it's extra special because as well as using a classic blend of spices, sultanas, raisins, currants, candied citrus peel, cherries and nuts, it also contains two slightly more tropical fruits: mango and pineapple! It might sound a little strange, but it's utterly wonderful, resulting in a sweet, intense, moist cake that looks gorgeous and brings so much extra flavour to this wonderful Christmas fruitcake.
Place the mixed peel, mixed dried fruit, pineapple and mango into a bowl and cover with water the night before you bake, this will allow them to plump up. They should absorb virtually all of the water.
To make the cake
Preheat the oven to 160C (140C fan). Cube the butter and add to the bowl with the sugar and syrup, creaming together until pale.
Add the eggs one by one, with a little flour between each one so that the mixture doesn’t curdle.
Mix in the rest of the flour.
Add the mixed spice and nutmeg and mix through.
Drain the soaked fruit - you don't want to add too much excess moisture - and stir into the batter.
Add the cherries, lemon zest, ground almonds and flaked almonds and stir through.
Grease a 25cm x 10cm bundt tin really well - I use about 10g of butter in mine.
Pour in the mix and level off.
Bake in the centre of the oven at 160C (140C fan) for 1.5 hours then turn the heat down to 140C (120C fan) and cook for a further 1.5 hours or until the cake feels very firm when pressed.
This is a trick I picked up from Marguerite Patten - cooking slow and low helps mature the fruit beautifully inside the cake, so it’s soft and rich, while the crumb takes on a beautifully deep hue. Marguerite also suggests that if you a hear a hum coming from the cake when removing the oven, then it needs to go back in to cook further.It could be that your cake is almost done after 3 hours or it could take another hour or even two+ more for your cake to be completely firm. Do stick with it and keep checking for a very firm sponge, so that you can be sure your cake is fully cooked. NOTE: It is really important that all the excess moisture is cooked out of the cake right to the centre so don't skip this step!
It should rise quite flat and even, but if it doesn't for any reason, you can trim to level off the base. However, I would recommend holding off for now and only trimming on the day of serving.
Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack. Feed your cake with a 2 tbsp of rum, brandy or whisky as it cools. This helps with the moistness and preservation of the cake.
Once completely cool, turn out and wrap tightly in foil or beeswax cloth, place in an airtight container and place in a dark, cool cupboard. Continue to feed the cake with 2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight up to the big day, if you wish.
If you're making this cake last minute, never fear - a month of maturing is a wonderful thing, but it's still tasty straight from wire rack, so do whatever works for you.
On the big day, remove your cake from it's wrapping. Heat the cream (don't boil).
Stir the cream into the chocolate to create a ganache, then spoon it carefully over the cake so that it drips down the sides.
Add the cherries and almonds decoratively.
Leave to set for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.