Simnel cake

by Lesley Holdship

A traditional Easter cake, packed with dried fruit and spices and covered in marzipan


To make your own marzipan:
350g ground almonds
175g caster sugar
175g icing sugar
2 large eggs

For the cake:
200g butter, at room temperature
200g soft brown sugar
3 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
2 tsp ground mixed spice
375g dried fruits, like currants, cherries, raisins
75g mixed peel
75g 70% chocolate, roughly chopped
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 orange, zest and juice
2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed

Chocolate eggs to decorate


Heat the oven to 150C. Base line a deep 20cm cake tin.

For the marzipan, stir together the almonds and the two sugars. Break in the eggs, then using a table knife bring together into a soft dough. Wrap and chill until you need it.

For the cake, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and pale. Break in the eggs one at a time and beat those in too. I like to use a fork for the job. Add the flour and mixed spice to the bowl and stir to combine. Pile in the remaining ingredients and stir to make a lovely chunky cake batter.

Divide the marzipan into three, take one third and roll it out to a circle the same size as the cake tin. Spoon half of the cake mix into the tin, then lay on the marzipan disc. Spread over the remaining cake mix.

Bake the cake for 2 hours. Test it with a skewer if you feel you need to. Cool the cake on a wire rack.

Take another third of marzipan, roll into 11 balls about the size of a grape. Lastly, roll out the remaining piece of marzipan to a circle the same diameter as the cake.

Once it has cooled, brush the top of the cake with apricot jam and cover with the circle of marzipan, crimping the edges if you like. Then place the marzipan bobbles around the top of the cake.

Place under a really hot grill to give the marzipan a golden brown tinge, or, if you like a bit of theatricals, use a blow torch.

Lastly, decorate with some chocolate eggs and ribbon if you fancy, and a flourish of edible glitter.

Image: John Holdship