Last year at Christmas I made Mince Pie Cupcakes with Brandy Buttercream and a Butterscotch Drizzle, and they were absolutely delicious (if I do say so myself!) I love mince pies, so making them into a cupcake was an obvious choice. Plus the brandy buttercream... oh wow! Brandy is such a great Christmas flavour and I couldn't wait to make the cupcakes again this year. But then I was invited to the Christmas meeting for my local Clandestine Cake Club, and I decided to make a cake instead! The bigger the better! To make the three tiers of sponge I first creamed together 375g butter and 375g caster sugar. I then added 6 eggs and 3 tbsp brandy, and mixed in well. Then finally folded in 375g self raising flour. I divided the mixture into three sponge tins and baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 25 minutes until golden brown. I left the sponge to cool and made some chocolate decorations by melting dark chocolate, putting it in a piping bag, and piping out shapes. I didn't know how I was going to decorate the cake at this point so I also made some star shapes which didn't end up on the cake. However they are an easier shape to do if you don't feel confident enough to do the Christmas trees. Once the sponge was cooled I started to stack it. I filled between the sponge with this luxury mincemeat, laced with port and packed with fruit. Of course you can use home made mincemeat if you have some. Don't spread the mincemeat all the way to the edge, leave a little gap, otherwise you run the risk of mincemeat in your buttercream. I made the brandy buttercream using 400g icing sugar, 150g butter and 3 or 4 tbsp brandy, depending how strong you want it, and also don't add too much as you want a fairly stiff buttercream for covering the cake with. I spread the buttercream over the cake, then left it to set. Then I did another layer of buttercream to completely cover the cake. I pressed the chocolate Christmas decorations into the fresh buttercream around the side of the cake. Then I sprinkled some bronze sugar pieces around the edge - and all over my kitchen! Finally I placed a Christmas tree in the centre of the cake. And off to Cake Club I went! Here are the other cakes we had at the meeting... My friend Beth made this delicious Chocolate & Chestnut Yule Log using a Delia Smith recipe. It contains no flour, giving it a beautifully light texture. And she made the chocolate leaves herself too! Janice made these brilliant Chocolate & Vanilla Candles, with a fantastic stripey inside! Elaine made this gorgeous Orange & Almond Cake with a crunchy top. A savoury twist from our host Avril with a Stilton & Walnut Cheesecake. Although I am not a walnut fan, I loved the Stilton filling. And the carrot chutney accompanying it was delicious! Clare tested out a new icing technique on us with this gold dusted effect Spiced Orange & Cranberry Cake. Janette wowed with this basket woven buttercream effect which you get from a certain type of piping nozzle and plenty of patience! It looks great and the Lindt truffles were a brilliant touch on her Chocolate & Baileys Cake. Jane used a Mary Berry recipe to make her Ginger & Treacle Traybake. And here's my cake towering above the rest, it was so big! Definitely enough to feed a hungry family, or group of friends around Christmas time. Be mindful of the amount of alcohol in it if you have children at your gathering, the buttercream certainly packs a punch! A good one of course for us adults to enjoy. And here's a shot of the cake sliced, with the three layers and mincemeat filling visible. I had a lot of compliments on this cake, and I was really pleased with it too. It's a fantastic Christmas treat! Let the Christmas baking commence!