Preheat the oven to very slow, 120°C. Grease a deep 22cm-round cake pan or a 19cm-square cake pan, cover the base and side with 2 layers of brown paper and 2 layers of baking paper, bringing the paper 5cm above the edge of the pan.
Combine the dried fruit, nuts, sherry, vanilla and sugar in a large bowl. Combine the butter and milk in a small saucepan, stir over the heat, without boiling, until the butter melts.
Add the butter mixture, eggs and sifted dry ingredients to the fruit mixture and mix well.
Spread the cake mixture into the prepared pan. Bake in a very slow oven for about 5 hours.
Cover hot cake with foil; cool in pan.
This undecorated cake can be made two months ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Suitable to freeze. Butter mixture suitable to microwave.Test Kitchen tip