Haven’t had chance to make your annual Christmas cake? Try this simple but delicious alternative instead that packs plenty of flavour and looks the part too.

Serves: 8-10
Ready in: 1hr 45mins, plus cooling

175g unsalted butter, softened
175g golden caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp ground mixed spice
½ tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
75g sweetened dried cranberries
50g walnuts, chopped
50g hazelnuts, chopped
Zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp orange juice

Half of a 400g tub ready-made royal icing
2 tsp snowflake sugar sprinkles
75g fresh cranberries
Fresh mint sprigs, to decorate (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas Mark 3. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line the base and up the two long sides of the tin with baking parchment.

Place the butter, sugar, flour, spice, baking powder and eggs in a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk for 2-3 minutes until thoroughly combined. Fold in the dried cranberries, nuts and orange zest and juice.

Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface. Bake for 1hr-1 hr 15 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Spread the royal icing over the top of the cake. Scatter over the sugar sprinkles and fresh cranberries, plus the fresh mint sprigs if using. Leave in a cool place until set. Serve sliced.

The cake will keep un-iced in an airtight container for a few days. Add the icing and fresh cranberry topping on the day of serving.

Add some sparkle: Instead of the fresh cranberries you could scatter over more festive-themed sugar sprinkles and add a dusting of edible gold spray for a really sparkly finish.

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