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Last Minute Christmas Cake

An easy, simple recipe with few ingredients; this cake has all the smells and flavours of a traditional well-matured Christmas cake yet can be made just a day or so before cutting and won’t disappoint.  The secret is to use a jar of really good mincemeat – either homemade or the best you can find – as the matured fruit and nut mixture will be plump and moist and full of spices and, if you’re lucky, spirit.  The top can be left plain, scattered with coarse sugar or brushed with melted apricot jam them decorated with nuts. 

Makes one large cake 

Preparation method

Heat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas3

Using a free-standing or hand-held electric mixer or whisk,  beat the butter and sugar until very creamy and light in texture.  Gradually beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition.  Add the mincemeat, Brandy and flour and mix in thoroughly using a large metal spoon.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and spread evenly.  Scatter with coarse sugar if wished. Bake in the heated oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Stand the tin on a wire rack and leave to cool completely before turning out.  Wrap the cake in fresh greaseproof or foil and leave for at least 24 hours.

If you want to decorate your cake with a nut topping pick out the best looking nuts from the pack, then heat the jam with the water until melted and very hot. Brush the top of the cake with warm apricot jam then arrange the nuts on top.  Brush with more jam, gently reheated, so they are glued in place.  Leave to set before cutting.  Store in an airtight container in a cool spot – not the fridge – and eat within a week. 

what you will need

175g unsalted butter, softened

125g dark brown muscovado sugar

3 large free-range eggs, at room temperature, beaten to mix

300g luxury mincemeat

1 tablespoon Brandy or orange juice

250g Marriage’s Finest Self-Raising Flour

To finish – optional:

Coarse sugar for sprinkling OR 100g mixed whole nuts (Brazils, walnuts, almonds, pecans) plus 4 tablespoons apricot jam melted with 1 tablespoon water

20.5cm/ 8in round deep cake tin or springclip tin greased and lined (or use a ready made cake liner)