360 gm eachraisins and currants240 gm eachdried sour cherries and dried cranberries240 gmpitted prunes, coarsely chopped180 gmfresh dates, seed removed, coarsely chopped120 gmglacé orange or clementine, finely chopped1orange, juice and thinly peeled rind only400 mlIrish whiskey400 gmplain flour2 tsp eachground ginger and ground cinnamon½ tsp eachground cloves and finely grated nutmeg ¼ tspbicarbonate of soda390 gmsoftened butter330 gmraw caster sugar1vanilla bean, scraped seeds only5eggs1 kgfondant (see note)For icing:red and green food colouring (optional)
Preheat oven to 150C. Combine dried fruits, glacé orange, juice, rind and 300ml whiskey in a large saucepan and stir occasionally over low heat until alcohol is absorbed (4-5 minutes). Cool to room temperature, then discard orange rind.
Sieve flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and set aside.
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla seeds in an electric mixer until light and fluffy (4-5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Transfer to a large bowl, stir in dry ingredients alternately with macerated fruit until just combined. Butter six 10cm-square cake tins and line the bases with baking paper. Spoon batter into tins, cover with baking paper and tie securely with kitchen string, then cover with foil and bake until golden and a cake tester withdraws clean (1 hour 15 minutes-1 hour 20 minutes). Drizzle remaining whiskey over hot cakes, cool in tins, then turn out.
Divide fondant in half, wrap one half in plastic wrap and set aside. Divide remaining fondant in half. Starting with one piece, knead on a work surface dusted with icing sugar until smooth and pliable (1-2 minutes), then add red food colouring gradually, kneading until smooth and evenly coloured to the desired shade. Roll out to 4mm thick, cut out three 10cm squares and set aside. Repeat with reserved quarter of fondant, kneading in green food colouring. Brush tops of cakes with a little water and lightly press a square of coloured fondant onto each cake. Roll out remaining white fondant to 4mm thick and cut out six 7cm-squares with a fluted cutter. Brush lightly with water and place in centre of coloured fondant, water-side down, pressing lightly to adhere. Store cakes in an airtight container until required. Cakes will keep for up to 1 month.
Note Fondant is available in 500gm packets from
the baking section of select supermarkets and from specialist cake