It's called Black Cake in the Caribbean, but this recipe is so packed with fruit, sugar and eggs that it's surprisingly light for a Christmas cake. You can marinate the fruit in the alcohol for up to two weeks before, but if you're short of time, bake it with half (150ml) the sherry and sprinkle the rest over when it’s cooked.
The recipe is from Festivals Together by Sue Fitzjohn, Minda Weston and Judy Large.
225g prunes, stoned and roughly chopped
100g mixed peel
1tsp mixed spice
4 tbsp brandy
400g muscovado sugar
10 large eggs, beaten
450g self-raising flour
½ tsp almond essence
50-100g finely chopped nuts (optional)
If you’re soaking the fruit, wash the currants, raisins and prunes and place in a large jar with the mixed peel, mixed spice, brandy and sherry. Cover and leave for a week or so.
To make the cake: grease and line the bottom and sides of a loose-bottomed 25cm cake tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper. Heat the oven to 170 degrees C, Gas Mark 3.
Cream the butter and sugar, then add the beaten eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is creamy. Add the fruits from the jar and mix well. (If you haven’t soaked the fruits, add them now, along with the mixed peel, mixed spice, brandy and half (150ml) the sherry.)
Sieve the flour and slowly stir into the mixture, along with the almond essence and nuts (if using). If the mixture is too stiff, add 15-30ml more sherry – the mixture should drop off a spoon, but not be too runny.
Spoon into the prepared tin, and smooth the top. Cover with a double layer of greaseproof paper and bake for about 2½ hours until the cake is firm and springy to the touch.
If you haven’t marinated the fruits beforehand, you can ‘feed’ the cake when it’s cool by making small holes in the top and bottom with a darning needle, and spooning over the rest of the sherry to soak in.
Wrap the cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper, then a layer of foil, and store in an airtight tin until Christmas.
You can also cover with marzipan and icing if you like.