Jazz up the traditional fruit cake for Christmas with this easy-to-master recipe.
4 cups sultanas (750g)
250g unsalted butter, chopped, at room temperature
¾ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
2½ cups plain flour
¼ cup self-raising flour
¹/³ cup brandy
125g white fondant
Pure icing sugar, for dusting
1 Place sultanas in a large bowl. Add enough warm water to come 3cm above the top of sultanas. Stand, covered, for 2 hours. Drain. Discard water. Spread sultanas out on two trays lined with absorbent kitchen paper. Stand, uncovered, for eight hours, or overnight.
2 Grease a 20cm square x 8cm deep cake pan. Line base and sides with two layers of brown paper, then one layer of baking paper, both extending 3cm above edges of pan.
3 Beat butter, sugar and paste in a small bowl of an electric mixer until just combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Don’t overbeat. Transfer to a large bowl.
4 Add combined sifted flours, brandy and sultanas. Using a wooden spoon, stir until well combined. Spoon into prepared pan. Level surface.
5 Cook in a slow oven (150C) for 1 hour, 45 minutes, or until cooked when tested. Remove from oven. Wrap hot cake and pan in a clean tea towel. Cool in pan completely.
6 To decorate, knead fondant on a clean surface dusted with icing sugar until smooth. Roll out to 1cm thick. Cut a star using a 9cm cutter.
7 To serve, remove cake from pan. Brush fondant star with a little water and arrange on top of cake.
TIP: Cake can be made up to a week ahead. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container. You can replace brandy with whiskey, rum or other liqueurs.