Heat oven to 130°C (120°C fanbake), with rack just below the middle. Completely line a 20 or 30cm ring pan, or two medium-sized loaf pans with baking paper or liners.
Measure out the nuts, cherries and crystallised and dried fruits into a large container, putting some aside for decorating the top. Cut up large pieces of fruit, but leave some long thin pieces if desired, especially if using melon strips (which give a wonderful colour).
In a large bowl mix eggs, sugar and vanilla. Mix in the sifted flour, baking powder and salt until smooth. Add nuts and fruit and mix thoroughly by hand.
Press evenly into the prepared cake pan/s (if pan is lined with baking paper coat evenly with non-stick spray just before use). Press reserved cherries, fruit and nuts into the top for decoration (if adding strips of crystallised fruit, put them in place after adding part of the cake mixture, then cover with remaining mixture). Bake for two to three hours until cake feels firm when pressed in the middle. Cool, remove from pan and peel away liner/s. Brush all over with rum, brandy or whisky. Brush the top with a light coating of oil for a shine. Store at room temperature in greaseproof paper, or refrigerate in a plastic bag. This cake will keep well for several months (after long storage, brush again with spirits and leave 24 hours or longer before eating). Cut in thin slices with a sharp serrated knife.