A deliciously rich, moist and fruity Christmas Cake, divided into four and beautifully decorated.
Pre-heat the oven to 170°C, 325°F, Gas Mark 3. Grease and double line the base and sides of a 18cm (7") loose bottomed square cake tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little of the flour if necessary. Sift the remaining flour and spices together and fold into the mixture. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients and lemon and spoon into the prepared tin.
Smooth the surface of the cake and then make a dip in the centre. Take a strip of brown wrapping paper and wrap around the cake to form a collar. Secure with string and bake the cake in the oven for 1 hour.
Reduce the temperature to 140°C, 275°F, Gas Mark 1. Bake for a further 2½-3 hours. Cover the cake with greaseproof paper to prevent the top from over browning, if necessary.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before turning out of the tin. Peel away the lining paper and prick the base with a skewer. Pour the brandy over and then wrap in greaseproof paper and foil and store in an airtight container until ready to decorate.
When ready to decorate, carefully cut the cake into 4 even squares. Brush the individual cakes with warmed, sieved apricot jam and cover each with marzipan. Knead the fondant icing into 4 even balls and roll out each onto a lightly icing sugar covered surface. Brush the marzipan with a little brandy and lift the icing over each cake. Smooth well and trim each of the bases.
Decorate each cake with ribbon and baubles. Each cake makes a fantastic gift.
We recommend baking your Christmas cake in November and then storing until 1-2 weeks before Christmas, when you can decorate it. Remember that after decorating you should store the individual cakes in a non-airtight container to prevent the icing from going soggy.