Before you begin:
Preheat the oven to 160°C, Fan Oven 145°C, Gas Mark 2. Prepare an 8inch/20cm round cake tin by lining the base and the sides with SuperValu greaseproof paper. Tie a double band of brown paper around the outside of the tin.
For the preparation:
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and continue mixing. Sieve the flour and mixed spice into a separate bowl and fold half of this into the mixture.
- Stir in the sultanas followed by the remaining flour and spice. Once mixed, stir in the currants, raisins, glacé cherry and citrus peel mix and the chopped almonds.
- Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately two hours until the cake is firm to touch, or, when pierced with a skewer, it comes out clean.
If you are adding the optional ingredients, the lemon, orange and apple should be added along with the dried fruit. The whiskey/ brandy should be drizzled over the cake when it is cool.
For the almond paste:
- Heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan on a medium heat until it starts to boil. Place the icing sugar and caster sugar in a mixing bowl with the ground almonds. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks, almond essence, lemon juice and rum. Gradually add the egg yolk mixture to the almonds and sugar and knead to make a soft but not sticky dough.
- Turn onto a clean surface, which has been dusted with icing sugar, and knead until smooth. If you’re not using the paste straight away, keep covered with plastic wrap to prevent it drying out.
To apply the almond paste:
- If the cake isn’t very level, turn the cake upside down and cover the base instead of the top (the top and sides of the cake are covered separately).
- Measure around the circumference of the cake using a piece of string. Brush the top with boiled apricot jam.
- Dust a clean surface with icing sugar and roll out one third of the almond paste into a circular shape. Turn the cake onto the paste and trim away excess almond paste with a sharp knife so it fits exactly on the top of the cake. Turn the cake carefully and set on a cake board.
- Brush the sides with the remaining apricot jam and roll out the remaining almond paste to a rectangular shape, the length of the piece of string. The width should be about the same height as the cake.
- Carefully roll-up the almond paste and smooth onto the sides of the cake. Trim away the excess with a sharp knife so that the paste fits the shape of the cake.
- Leave the cake for about five days so that the almond paste has a chance to dry before covering with royal icing.
For the royal icing:
- Lightly whisk the egg whites in a large mixing bowl until they are just beginning to get frothy. Stir in a couple of spoons of icing sugar and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Gradually add the rest of the sugar, beating well between each addition. Stir in the glycerine – this keep the icing soft for decorating.
- If you fancy flat icing your cake, keep the icing fairly soft – a wooden spoon should stand upright in the icing and slowly fall to one side. For piping, you should add more icing sugar to make a stiffer icing which will hold its shape.
- Spread this over the cake and decorate as desired. Be as imaginative as you like!
Make the icing a day ahead, cover and leave overnight. The air bubbles will rise to the surface and you’re more likely to have a smoother finish.