Believe it or not, this fabulously fruity cake has no eggs, yet it is really moist and rich and makes a spectacular centrepiece.
To make the marzipan, put the caster sugar, honey and 2 tablespoons of water in a small pan over a high heat. Stir until boiling and the sugar has dissolved.
Put the almonds, icing sugar and almond extract in a food processor. With the motor running, pour the sugar mixture through the feed tube into the dry ingredients and blend to a soft dough. Dust the work surface with icing sugar, tip out dough and knead into a 60cm-long sausage, cover with cling film and set aside.
To make the pumpkin spice, simply mix all the spices together in a bowl and set aside.
To make the sponge, heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and 1½ teaspoons of the pumpkin spice mixture together into a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. (Store any leftover spice mixture in an airtight container and use in fruit cakes or sprinkled into fruit crumble or pie fillings.)
Stir in the sugar and mixed fruit and cranberries, then add the milk. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until fully combined and soft. Spoon half the mixture into the tin, and level the top.
Wind the marzipan sausage around the top of the mixture. Spoon over the remaining mixture and smooth the top. Bake for about 1 hour–1 hour 10 minutes, until well risen, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. (Cover the cake with foil for the last 15 minutes of baking, if necessary.)
While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Combine the rum and sugar in a small pan over a low heat and allow the sugar to dissolve. Set aside to cool.
Make the crystallised decorations. Place the powdered egg white in a small bowl. Using a small balloon whisk, whisk in 30ml of room-temperature water, until frothy. Place the caster sugar on a small plate.
Using the small paintbrush, sparingly brush the fruit and bay leaves all over with the frothy egg-white mixture. Sprinkle over the sugar (or dip the fruit and bay leaves into the sugar) and shake off any excess, then place on the lined baking tray. Leave to dry.
Make the rum icing. Using a wooden spoon, mix together the icing sugar and rum in a bowl to a thick piping consistency. Add a few drops of super-white food colouring, if you wish. Spoon the icing into the piping bag and set aside.
To decorate, prick the hot cake all over with a cocktail stick and brush with about half of the rum syrup. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Brush with the remaining rum syrup. Leave for another 5–10 minutes for the syrup to soak in.
Transfer the cake to a serving plate. Snip a hole in the end of the piping bag and drizzle the rum icing along the grooved areas of the cake, letting it drip naturally along the grooves and into the middle. Place the crystallised fruit and leaves on top of the cake to finish.