The queen of cakes, shows you how easy it is to knock up a light and traditional Christmas cake, packed with luxury dried fruit and nuts
350g (12 oz) red or natural glacé cherries
225 g (8 oz) can of pineapple in natural juice
350 g (12 oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots
100 g (4 oz) blanched almonds (skins removed)
Finely grated rind of 2 lemons
350 g (12 oz) sultanas
250 g (9 oz) self-raising flour
250 g (9 oz) caster sugar
250 g (9 oz) softened butter
75 g (3 oz) ground almonds
5 large eggs
Blanched almonds Red or natural glacé cherries Glacé pineapple (available from health-food shops) 100 g (4 oz) sifted icing sugar
You can also use a little apricot jam to brush over the fruit cake to glaze if you wish
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C fan/140°C/gas mark 3. Grease a 23 cm (9 in) deep round cake tin then line the base and sides with a double layer of baking parchment.
Cut the cherries into quarters, put in a sieve and rinse under running water then drain well. Drain and roughly chop the pineapple, then dry the pineapple and cherries very thoroughly on kitchen paper. Snip the apricots into pieces. Roughly chop the almonds. Place the prepared fruit and nuts in a bowl with the grated lemon rind and sultanas and gently mix together.
Measure the remaining ingredients into a large bowl and beat well for 1 min until smooth. Lightly fold in the fruit and nuts then turn the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Level the surface and decorate the top with blanched whole almonds, halved glacé cherries and pieces of glacé pineapple.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 2¼ hours or until golden brown. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Cover the cake loosely with foil after 1 hour to prevent the top becoming too dark.
Leave to cool in the tin for 30 mins then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack. Mix the icing sugar with a little water, and drizzle over the cake to glaze.
This recipe is taken from Mary Berry's Baking Bible, published by BBC Books, priced £25 and available from Amazon