Preparation is key to Christmas, with just five weeks to go it's time to make the Christmas cake.

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A perfect recipe for a delightful Christmas cake:

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 4hours 30 minutes
Total time: 5hours 30 minutes

First gather...

1 lb 2oz/ 525g currants
8oz/225g golden raisins
8oz/225g raisins
4oz/110g mixed candied peel, finely chopped
6oz/165g glace cherries, halved
10oz/300g plain flour
Pinch of salt
½ level tsp mixed spice
½ level tsp ground cinnamon
½ level tsp freshly ground nutmeg
300g butter, slightly softened
1oz/300g soft brown sugar
zest ½ lemon
6 large eggs, lightly beaten

And last but not least…

3tbsp brandy, plus extra for feeding.

Preheat Oven to 300 F/ 150 C/ Gas 2

* Line a 9inch cake tine with 2 thicknesses of parchment or greaseproof paper.

* In a large (the larger the better!) baking bowel, mix the currants, sultanas, raisins, peel and cherries with the flour salt and spices.

* In a 2nd large bowel cream the butter with the sugar until lightly fluffy. Stir in lemon zest, add beaten egg to the mix a little bit at a time, beating well after each addition- (take it slow as the threat of curdling lurks!! BUT if it does curdle simply add a tbsp of flour and mix again.)

* Carefully fold in ½ the flour and fruit into the egg and butter mixture. Once mixed repeat with what’s left of the fruit and flour. Finally, add the brandy.

* Spoon mixture into cake tin (no air pockets please)

TIP: To create the perfect icing surface, before the cake goes in the oven use the back of a wooden spoon to make a slight dip in the centre

Bake for 4 ½ hours

TIP: If the cake is browning too rapidly, cover the tin with double layer of greaseproof paper after 2 ½ hours.

It’s tempting to view your masterpiece as it bakes but try to avoid opening the oven door too often as this can cause the cake to collapse.

Once baked…
Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for an hour, then remove from the tin and leave to cool completely.

The BEST bit: Once cooled prick the surface of the cake with a fine metal skewer and slowly pour 2-3 tbsp brandy. Feed the cake brandy every two weeks up until Christmas- it tis the season to be jolly after all!!