Put the dried fruit, zests and juice, alcohol and sugar in a large pan over a medium heat. Gently bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer the mix to a large bowl, cover and leave overnight to macerate.
2.) The next day, heat the oven to gas 2 or 150 C, lower to 130 if your oven is fan assisted. Line a deep 20cm round or square tin with a double later of baking parchment/greaseproof paper and wrap a layer of brown paper around the outside of the tin, tie with string to secure - you may need to borrow someone's finger to help you do this!
3.) Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add to the fruit mix followed by the dried ingredients (all the spices, vanilla, baking poweder & flour) stir really well so everything is incorporated and there are no pockets of flour. Tip into prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and place in centre of oven. Bake for 3 hours but check after 2 hours and 45 minutes as some ovens bake quicker. If skewer comes out clean from centre of the cake and it has come away from sides of tin, cake is done.
4.) Remove cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over some brandy and rum. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
5.) To store, peel away the baking parchment then wrap well in more parchment then foil and remember to feed cake with alcohol every week.
Things to remember about making a Christmas cake is it's long slow cooking, some recipes are as long as 4 or 5 hours therefore lining the tin twice with baking parchment and layering the the outside of the tin is so important. A variety of fruit, nuts and alcohol can be used, experiment! Even if you make the cake 2 weeks before Christmas, don't forget to feed it with more alcohol and if you don't don't worry, the addition of ground almonds keeps the cake moist.
Marzipan a week before Christmas remember first to use seived warm apricot jam so the marzipan has something to stick to. Ice two days before Christmas as this allows the marzipan to dry out a bit. Go wild with the icing, use your imagination. You can make royal icing or use ready rolled fontant.