Preparation / Directions:
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275 degrees F, 140 degrees C. An 8-inch (20cm) round cake tin, or a 7 inch square cake tin greased and lined with greaseproof paper.
The night before you bake, place all the dried fruit and peel in a bowl and soak in the brandy. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave to soak for at least 12 hours.
Sift the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl, and in a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Next, beat up the eggs and - a tablespoon at a time - add them to the creamed mixture, beating thoroughly after each addition. If it looks as if it might start to curdle, you can prevent this happening by adding a little of the flour.
When all the egg has been added, fold in the flour and spices (fold, don't beat). Now stir in the fruit and peel that has been soaking, the nuts, the treacle and grated lemon and orange rinds.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon. (If you do not intend to ice this cake, at this stage you can arrange some blanched almonds over the surface - but do it lightly or they will disappear forever into the cake!)
Tie a band of brown paper around the outside of the tin, and cover the top of the cake with a double square of greaseproof paper (with a hole in the middle approximately an inch - 1.5 inches across). Bake the cake on the lower shelf of the oven for about 4.25 - 4.75 hours and don't open the door to peek until at least 4 hours have passed.
When the cake is cold, wrap it well in double greaseproof paper and store in an airtight container. I like to "feed" it at odd intervals with brandy during storage time. To do this, strip off the lining papers, make a few holes in the top with a thin darning needle and pour a few teaspoons of brandy into the cake. Repeat at intervals for a week or