Makes one 20cm cake

Ingredients
*165g currants
*220g raisins
*165g sultanas
*55g halved glace cherries
*55g candied citrus peel
*55ml brandy, plus 50ml​ brandy for feeding the cake, plus extra if needed
*Zest and juice of 1 orange
*Zest and juice of 1 lemon#
*385g wholemeal flour
*1 tsp salt
*1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
*1 tsp mixed spice
*1 tsp ground cinnamon
*1 tsp ground allspice
*190g vegan block margarine, at room temperature, cut into 1cm pieces
*2 tbsp ground flaxseed
*190g soft dark brown sugar
*2 tbsp black treacle
*130ml soya milk

For the decoration:
*100g apricot jam
*2 tbsp lemon juice
*A selection of dried fruit and nuts

lucywatsonchristmascake.jpg

Method

1. The day before you intend to make the cake, put the dried fruit, glacé cherries and candied peel in a large bowl. Add the 55ml brandy and the orange and lemon zest and juice. Cover with cling film and set aside for 24 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 170ºC (150ºC fan, gas 3). Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, leaving an extra 5cm of paper above the edge of the tin to fold over later.

3. Sift the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large mixing bowl. Rub the fat into the flour using your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make the equivalent of 2 eggs by putting 2 tbsp ground flaxseed in a small bowl and mixing in 6 tbsp warm water. Add this to the flour mixture, followed by the remaining ingredients, except the brandy for feeding, then stir until there are no dry spots and everything is combined.

4. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top with a spatula. Bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If the skewer has any raw cake mixture on it, return the cake to the oven for an extra 5–10 minutes and test again.

5. Allow the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cake from the tin and leave it on the rack to cool completely, still wrapped in the paper.

6. Use a skewer to prick several holes in the top of the cake. Carefully drizzle the 50ml brandy into the cake using a teaspoon, making sure each teaspoonful is absorbed before you add another.

7. Keep the baking parchment around the cake, folding over the extra paper at the top, then wrap in two layers of cling film and store in an airtight container. You can make this cake up to 3 months before you need it.

8. Simply feed it with more brandy every 2 weeks to allow the flavours to develop.

9. When you are ready to serve, put the jam in a small pan and add the lemon juice and a splash of water. Heat over a low heat until it forms a syrup-like texture. Arrange the dried fruits and nuts on top of the cake and brush over the glaze. Leave to set.

See Lucy’s top tips for a vegan Christmas

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