Rub the butter into the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs, add sugar and dried fruit and mixed spice, if using
Add egg and milk to make a soft dropping consistency.
Put into lined 2 lb loaf tin or 6" round cake tin. Sprinkle demerara sugar over the top and pat down with the back of a spoon (this gives a nice crunchy top) and bake for approximately 1 to 1 1/4 hours in a preheated oven at 180 C / 160 C fan / Gas 4 until a skewer comes out clean.
This is the perfect cake for celebrations . It is a stiff cake with a moist texture so perfect for carving and novelty cakes. Wonderful with jam and buttercream or just left and covered with marzipan/icing, this cake is so versatile you can pretty much do anything with it! It will never curdle and is so simple and never fails to always tastes perfect!
pre-heat the oven to 150 C / Gas 2. Grease and line (or grease and flour) a 20cm (8 in) square or round tin and set aside.
Sieve flour into large mixing bowl, add all other ingredients and mix with electric mixer on slow speed until all ingredients are blended, then increase to fast speed and mix for another 2 or so minutes, when you have a smooth batter (it will be quite thick/stiff).
Pour into already prepared tin, place in centre of oven and cook for about 1 hour 15 mins to 1 hour 30 mins; test with skewer if it comes out clean cake is done.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4). Grease a 20 cm (8 in) round deep cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
Sift the wholemeal and white flours and the cinnamon into a large bowl, tipping in any bran left in the sieve. Coarsely chop about two-thirds of the brazil nuts and stir into the flour with the raisins. Thinly slice the rest of the brazil nuts lengthways and set aside.
In another bowl, beat together the sugar and oil with a wooden spoon until well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the grated carrots and orange zest and juice. With a large metal spoon, carefully fold the carrot mixture into the flour mixture, just until combined. Do not overmix.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 50 minutes or until risen and firm to the touch. Leave the cake in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and peel off the lining paper. Cool completely.
To make the icing, put the ricotta in a bowl, add the sugar and orange zest, and beat with a wooden spoon.
When the cake is cold, spread the icing on top. Scatter over the reserved sliced brazil nuts, letting some stick up out of the icing at different angles. The cake can be kept, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days.