This cake could easily be made now, and frozen without it's icing, ready for Christmas. It is full of all things Christmassy, dried cranberries, apricots, ground almonds and orange. Making a Christmas cake isn't for everyone and we all know it's quite a time consuming task.
I decorated the cake with glace icing and then simply brushed the bay leaves and green grapes with egg white, dusted them with caster sugar and left them to dry. Even if you don't make the cake, frosted grapes are delicious!
I nearly forgot to say, if you do make this cake, don't put the mixture into a paper cake liner as I did, otherwise you will end up with cake liner marks on your cake and it really isn't a good look for a special occasion cake.
You can either make this cake in a 2lb loaf tin or halve the mixture and use two 1lb loaf tins. Either way, they need to be greased and lined.
For the cake:
175g butter, 175g caster sugar, 4 eggs, 300g self-raising flour, 100g dried cranberries, 200g chopped ready-to-eat apricots, 50g ground almonds, grated zest 1 orange.
1. Heat the oven to Gas 3, 160°C, 325°F.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs adding a little of the flour if the mixture curdles. Stir in the flour with the cranberries, apricots, almonds and orange zest.
4. Dollop into the tin, smooth the top and bake for approximately 1½ hours(the 1lb loaf tins will take less time to cook), until golden, risen and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.
For the decoration:
1 orange, 100g caster sugar, 4-5 green grapes, 6 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons orange juice. Or alternatively, you can use a glace icing.
1. Put 2 tablespoons of orange juice and 2 tablespoons of the sugar into a small pan, boil for 2 minutes until syrupy. Add the remaining sugar, stir well then drizzle over the cake.
2. Decorate with the frosted grapes, bay leaves and curls of orange peel (this can be made by using a potato peeler and paring off one long strip of orange rind, cut the strip of orange rind into 3 or 4 strips and wind up tightly).