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Christmas Cake (British)

2 lb mixed dried fruit (seedless raisins and currants)
4 oz glace cherries
4 oz candied fruit
3 oz blanched almonds
10 oz plain flour
1 x pinch salt
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp mixed spice (cinnamon, allspice and mace)
4 eggs
1/2 tsp almond, lemon or vanilla flavoring

1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
8 oz butter
8 oz soft brown sugar
Whisky to soak fruit
50 ml milk (to mix)

Find a 9-inch cake pan at least three inches deep; grease it, and
line the bottom and sides with a double thickness of greased baking
parchment. Tie folded brown paper or newspaper around the outside
of the pan. Set oven to 320-300F: have folded paper to stand the
pan on when baking -- place low in oven.

Pick over the dried fruit, removing any stems, etc. Wash, drain
well and spread over a cloth on a tray to dry. When dry, put in a
bowl and pour a small wine-glass of spirit over it. Cover well and
leave overnight.

Next day, add chopped peel, blanched chopped almonds, and cherries
minced and drained. Mix thoroughly. Sift together the flour, salt,
soda and spice. Beat the eggs well with the molasses and flavoring.
Put the butter into a large warmed bowl and beat until soft; then
add the sugar and beat until light and creamy. Beat in the egg
mixture, about a sixth of it at a time, then fold in half the flour
mixture. Add remainder of the flour to the fruit and mix well.
Add fruit to creamed mixture and fold in well.

Put into pan and bake for about 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until done. If
top of cake is browning too fast, cover with a few thicknesses of
paper. Reduce the oven heat slightly every hour -- about 10 degrees.

Test with skewer for doneness. Keep the paper wrapped around the
cake in place until completely cooled, so that the cooling takes
place slowly. After completely cooled, invert the cake, lift the
baking parchment off the bottom, and sprinkle the cake generously
with the spirit of your choice. Wrap well in foil, put in a sealed
tin, and keep in a cool place (not necessarily refrigerated) . The
cake benefits from occasional unwrappings and sprinkling with more
spirit. It takes about 2 months to achieve maximum mellowness.


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