I use a hand-mixer for the first stages of making the cake, I prefer it to a big mixer where you have to keep poking a spatula down the side of the bowl to encourage the mixture back towards the beaters.
My first ingredients are unsalted butter, soft dark-brown sugar, five eggs, and flour with mixed spice and ground nutmeg added.
It takes a while to cream the butter and sugar to the light & fluffy stage. I have to give my mixer some little breaks because it gets hot. When the butter and sugar mixture is ready I add the eggs (pre-beaten in a separate bowl) a little at a time, and then I stir in the sifted flour and spice mixture and mix it well. Last but not least at this stage I drop in a goodly glob of black treacle.
Now all that wonderful Armagnac-soaked fruit goes in and I mix the whole lot thoroughly. It smells heavenly.
I love cooking for various reasons, one because I like eating, but also because I’m intrigued by all the different textures, smells, and tastes. With the cake-making it’s the creamy soft butter compared with the dark and gritty sugar; the slippery-slithery egg as it falls from the shell and changes from deep orange to pale frothy yellow as it hits the beaters; the gentle softness of flour combined with the sharp tang of freshly grated nutmeg; black treacle, sticky and sweet, sliding lazily off the spoon – as if it’s got all day! The fruit mixture has such a deep rich aroma with the citrus and the Armagnac, and is colour-splashed with bits of red cherry and white almonds.
The mixture is now spooned into a pre-prepared tin (which I forgot to photograph) and is popped into a low oven. I pray there won’t be a power-cut! We often get them here. Four and a half hours later … voilà! It’s done.