- 350g (11oz) sultanas
- 100g (3½oz) dried sour cherries, roughly chopped
- 100g (3½oz) dried blueberries
- 175g (6oz) dark chocolate, broken up
- 200g (6½oz) unsalted butter, diced
- 125g (4oz) light brown sugar
- 200ml (6½fl oz) sweet sherry
- 4 large free range eggs, beaten
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- 175g (6oz) dark chocolate chips
- 200g (6½oz) plain flour
- 2tbsp self-raising flour
- ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Pinch of salt
- 3tbsp apricot jam
- 500g (1lb) marzipan
- 2 x 500g (2 x 1lb) packs ready-made whit dicing
- Icing sugar
- Place all the dried fruit in a large saucepan. Add the chocolate, butter, brown sugar and sherry and place over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter have melted. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Set aside and cool completely.
- Heat the oven to 150°C (gas mark 2). Grease a 20cm (8in) square cake tin. Line the base and sides with a double layer of baking paper, extending the paper 5cm (2in) above the tin.
- Transfer the cooled fruit mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the beaten eggs, orange zest and chocolate chips and mix well with a wooden spoon. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into the bowl and mix until well combined.
- Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for 1 hour. Cover the top of the cake with baking paper and cook for a further 1-1½ hours or until the cake is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin. Wrap securely in foil and cling film until ready to ice.
- To cover in marzipan, warm the jam with 1tbsp of cold water, and sieve. Place the cake on a board and brush with the warm jam. Roll out the marzipan on a surface dusted with icing sugar to a square about 27cm (11in) across, lift the paste over the cake and ease to fit smoothly around the sides. Trim off any access. Wrap in cling film and leave over night.
- To make the decorations, on a surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out 150g (5oz) of the ready-made icing to a thickness of about 5mm (½in) and cut out shapes using star cutters, as here, or alternatively use trees ranging in height from 4cm (1½in) to 8cm (3in). You will need about 20 trees in various sizes. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Using black icing, pipe decorations on the tree. Knead the icing trimmings and shape into snowballs of various sizes. Place on the baking sheet with the trees and leave to set, uncovered, in a cool place for 1-2 days.
- Remove the cling film from the marzipanned cake and lightly brush with water. On a surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out the remaining ready-made icing to a 33cm (13½in) round. Lift over the cake and smooth the icing down the sides. Trim off the excess icing around the cake's base. Dust your palms with icing sugar, and gently "polish" the surface of the icing with the heel of your hand, to smooth out any creases and uneven areas. Take the set decorations and arrange them on the top of the cake. Dust with icing sugar before you serve.
You can make the cake in two stages: boiling the fruit, chocolate, butter, sugar and sherry on the first day, and then mixing the ingredients and baking the cake on a second day.