Many people consider that Christmas without a rich iced cake would be incomplete; others, again, prefer a much simpler mixture, even though it be elaborately iced. Rich cakes should be made some weeks, or even months, before they are required, in order that they may become mellowed and improved in flavour by storing in a moderately warm, dry place. Plain cakes should only be made a day or two before they are to be iced and eaten.
Three-quarters of a pound of mixed peel. Half a pound of glace cherries. Half a pound of sultanas. One pound of currants. Four ounces of sweet almonds. Half an ounce of ground allspice. One gill of brandy. One pill of milk. A little burnt sugar colouring, if liked very dark.
Line a cake-tin with three layers of greased paper, and tie a layer of brown paper round outside the tin, so as to form a band to come up above the edge of it. Warm the butter, without melting it, add the sugar, and beat both to a soft, white, creamy mass. Beat the eggs until frothy, then stir them gradually into the butter and sugar. Mix the chopped peel, halved cherries, shredded almonds, and cleaned and stalked sultanas and currants together with the allspice. Sieve and add the flour lightly to the butter, sugar, and eggs. Then mix in the fruit thoroughly. Add the brandy, milk, and enough colouring, if used, to tint the mixture a pale brown. Put the mixture into the tin and bake it, in a hot oven at first and a cooler one after the first twenty minutes, for about four to five hours. When cooked, take the cake out of the tin, but leave the paper that is sticking to it still on. Leave the cake until cold, then wrap it up in grease-proof paper (bought at any stationer's), then in soft kitchen paper, and keep it in a fairly warm, not cold, place until just before Christmas, when it must be iced and decorated.
N.B. - To make sure the cake is baked enough, stick a clean, bright skewer into it; if it comes out clean and free from the mixture, it is done; if otherwise, it requires longer cooking.