- Grease an 20cm (8 in) square baking dish and line it with baking parchment. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and lemon zest. Stir with a whisk until blended. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing until each one is blended in. Stir in the dry ingredients just until moistened, then fold in the sultanas, currants, cherries and almonds.
- Spoon into the prepared dish and smooth the top. Make a slight impression in the centre with the back of a spoon so the cake will turn out level. Cover and leave in a cool place overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 150 C / Gas mark 2. Place the baking dish on a baking tray.
- Bake for 4 hours in the preheated oven. When the cake is done, a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Cool in the dish for 1 hour, then turn out onto a wire rack and remove the parchment. When completely cool, poke with a skewer every inch or so, and spoon brandy into the holes. Wrap in greaseproof paper and store in a cool place until serving.
And for the finishing touch...
For a traditional finish to your Christmas cake, use shop-bought marzipan or try this recipe. For a speedy finish, you can then top it with a variety of glace fruits, dried fruits and/or nuts, or use ready to roll icing. For a homemade touch, try this royal icing recipe.
Icing and decorating your cake
Look at our handy guide to Icing and decorating a Christmas cake to learn how to prepare your cake, ice it and decorate it!