1. Preheat oven to 175° / gas mark 3
2. Grease a 23cm cake tin and first line the tin with a layer of sturdy tinfoil and second add a layer of greased baking paper for the cake mix to sit in. You want the cake tin to be double lined like so for the coming month when you will be ‘feeding’ the cake with extra brandy.
3. Begin by adding the dried fruit, butter, black treacle, water, brandy, sugar and bicarbonate of soda and bring to a rapid boil in a large saucepan. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time.
4. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little, about 10 minutes.
5. Into the same saucepan, add the flour, spices, mixed peel, crystallised ginger and the nuts. Stir to combine.
6. Lastly, add the eggs and stir to combine.
7. Pour the mix into the prepared tin and place in the hot oven, setting your timer for 1 hour. After an hour in the oven, place a square of tin foil over the cake tin to prevent the cake from catching and continue to cook for a further 30 minutes. The cake is ready when a skewer or knitting needle comes clean out of the cake. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
8. Stored well, wrapped in a double layer of greaseproof paper and a double layer of tin foil, the cake will keep well for up to a month or more. For optimum fudgy, Christmas cake fruitiness, ‘feed’ cake with a little extra brandy. Using a skewer or knitting needle, pierce the top of the cake and add 1 tbsp of brandy to the cake, once a week for a month is ideal.