The week before you intend making the cake, soak the dried mixed fruit in hot black tea. I normally use two teabags and enough water to cover the fruit. Leave overnight to soak. This plumps up the fruit. Then drain thoroughly. Put the fruit back into a container that you have a lid for.
In a small saucepan combine the spices, alcohol and treacle. Bring to the boil and stir so that the treacle is dissolved. Pour this mixture over the soaked dried mixed fruit, stir thoroughly to ensure all fruit is coated, put the lid on and put in the fridge. Leave this for a few days. It can be left for up to a fortnight (I use a large locknlock container). Every day turn the container upside down so that all the fruit gets a good soaking with the alcohol.
Drain the residual alcohol from the fruit over a bowl. Save it for later.
Bake the cake:
When you're ready to bake the cake, prepare your tin by lining with greaseproof paper, ensuring the greaseproof is taller than the tin. My tin is a deep square approximately 25x25cm (10x10 in). If you like you can also wrap newspaper around the sides of the tin. This stops the outside of the cake from burning as it cooks.
Sieve a bit of the flour over the fruit and mix. This stops the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Slowly add the beaten eggs, flour and baking powder alternately to stop the cake mixture from curdling.
Fold in the mixed fruit and then the cherries, apricots, mixed peel and lemon and orange zest. Ensure there are no pockets of flour.
Put the mixture into the prepared baking tin. When smoothing the mixture in the tin ensure it goes into all corners and create a slight dip in the centre of it so that as it rises it stays a similar size overall.
Place in the centre of a preheated oven at 140 C / Gas 1-2. Keep an eye on the cake as all ovens cook slightly differently but it should take around 2 1/2 hours to cook. Put a kebab stick in the centre, and it should come out clean if it is cooked. Leave to cool. Once cool, wrap and store in an airtight tin.
You can leave the cake as it is or a couple of times up to Christmas you can feed it by adding extra alcohol over the top by poking small holes with a kebab stick all over and gently spooning a little alcohol over the top.
Decorate however you wish. I glaze the top apricot jam, roll out marzipan over the top. Then I mix a little golden syrup into about 400g of glace cherries, whole almonds and walnuts. Then I spread out this mixture over the marzipan and press down. Toast under a grill for a few minutes until golden. Leave to cool.