It took me a while to get to it but I did finally manage to bake a christmas cake. It started with making sure I had everything I needed and buying what wasn't on hand (slivered almonds, eggs and butter). And then I left the fruit to steep in brandy.
For a couple of weeks, as just when I had worked myself up to actually doing it and spent a fiddly half an hour or so lining the tin and wrapping a double layer of banking parchment around the outside of the tine, I realised that I had no lemons after all and so no lemon peel (I usually have some dried on hand just in case but even that was all gone). So after my first 'attempt', a week later I finally got too it. I had a hard time believing that the huge amount of stuff I had would all squish together into my 20cm cake tin but it actually did. To save me the hassle next year (assuming it actually tastes good, which I won't know until the friend who's getting it as a present has tried some) I'm going to make a note here that even though I use the big 7.5l Tupperware mixing bowl for steeping the fruit (it has a lid and therefore no need to use clingfilm) I should tip the fruit out into a different bowl as the fruit needs to be folded into the batter, not the other way round and by the time I was finished, that big mixing bowl was the only one big enough to hold the whole lot. I ended up folding a bit more than half the fruit into the batter in one of my 5l red mixing bowls before tipping everything from that into the Tupperware bowl for a final mix. I did make an effort to fold rather than my usual stirring at least.
And, as warned by my sister and the notes in the Good Housekeeping book, I make an indentation in the centre of the cake mix in order to have as flat a top as possible - it doesn't rise very much but does rise slightly in the centre. You can really see it that well in the photo but I promise, the dip is there.
I baked it as specified for 4 hours, checked it 15 minutes before the end and it wasn't done so left it in for, in the end, about 4 hours and 15 minutes. I had somehow missed the length of the baking time when I read the recipe so I was glad I had actually gotten it in to the oven shortly after seven!
And here it is in all it's glory. Well, maybe not quite glorious but at least it looks like a christmas cake, albeit a slightly dark on top one.