All the flavours of Christmas packed into a simple, yet stunning cake – this is a fantastic twist on a classic.
Heat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/315°F/Gas 3. Put the mixed fruit, apricots and glacé cherries in a medium pan with the brandy over a low heat. Cover the pan with lid and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Pour the fruit onto a plate and leave to cool.
Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer fitted with the beater, on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until pale and creamy. Add the beaten egg, little by little, mixing well between each addition. Add the flour, ground almonds, cooled fruit and orange zest to the mixer and stir slowly until fully combined. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the top.
Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Pour the 3 tablespoons of brandy or liqueur over the hot cake, then leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the glaze. Put the apricots and sugar in a medium pan over a low heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Add 1 tablespoon of brandy and bring to the boil for 15–20 minutes, until the apricots are soft and the mixture resembles jam. Press the mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Discard the contents of the sieve and stir the remaining brandy or liqueur into the bowl to make a smooth glaze. Leave to cool.
Make the marzipan. Stir the icing sugar, caster sugar and egg together in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture with an electric hand whisk for about 10 minutes, until just warm to the touch. Remove the bowl from the heat. Add the almond and orange extracts and the brandy or liqueur, then stir in the ground almonds and orange zest and use your hands to knead together to form a paste.
Roll out marzipan on a work surface lightly dusted with icing sugar and cut out 20 stars. Stick two stars on each ridge of the cake, using the glaze to secure them, then brush the glaze all over to finish.