Use a canola based margarine instead of butter and make sure to soak the dried fruit in the fridge for at least a few days before you start. I use rum, but you could also use brandy or even home-squeezed orange juice. Don't worry, the alcohol cooks off during the cooking process!
Christmas cakes are best made a month ahead. Consider 'feeding' the cake with a few teaspoons of liquor each week in the lead up to Christmas.
- Place all dried fruit, treacle and apple in a bowl and cover with rum. Cover dish and refridgerate for at least a couple of days before you start the cake.
- Grease and line a 2cm round cake tin. Tie some additional paper around the outside of the tin and prepare a double layer square of baking paper with a small cutout in the middle. The square is to be placed gently on top of the cake to prevent burning during the long cooking time.
- Preheat oven to 140 degrees.
- Sift flour and spices into a bowl.
- In another bowl, beat together sugar and margarine until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating all the time. Adding the eggs slowly should prevent them from curdling, but if the mixture does curdle, don't worry too much as the cake will still taste delicious!
- Fold the flour gently into the egg mix.
- Gently fold fruit and almond mix in now.
- Transfer cake mix to the cake tin, spreading out evenly.
- Place almonds in a circular pattern on the cake surface.
- Cover with baking paper square and bake for 4 - 4.5hrs or until skewer tests clean.