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Simnel Cake

This traditional Easter Day cake is a light fruit mixture flavoured with lemon zest and a layer of marzipan in the middle of the cake plus another layer added to the top after baking. The cake is decorated with 11 balls of marzipan to represent the remaining Disciples (not Judas). You can replace the dried fruit and cherries with 450g luxury dried fruit mix. (image for illustration purposes only)

Preparation method

Preeat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and set aside until needed.

Beat the butter with the sugar and lemon rind, with a wooden spoon or electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition and adding the ground almonds with the last egg. Using a large metal spoon fold in the flour followed by the dried fruit, cherries and the milk. When thoroughly combined spoon half of the mixture into the prepared tin and spread evenly.

Roll out one-third of the marzipan to a circle slightly smaller than the tin. Gently set it on top of the cake mix then spoon the rest of the mixture into the tin and spread evenly. Make a slight hollow in the centre so the cake rises evenly.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes then reduce the temperature to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 and bake for a further 60 to 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted just down to the marzipan layer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

When completely cold remove the cake from the tin and paper. Roll out two-thirds of the remaining marzipan to a circle to fit the top of the cake. Brush the top of the cake with a little sherry or warm apricot jam then gently set the marzipan on top. You can leave the edge plain or flute it with your fingers. Roll the rest of the marzipan into 11 balls and arrange around the edge.

The cake can be quickly browned under a hot grill then tied with a ribbon.

If possible keep the cake for 5 to 7 days before cutting.

what you will need

Makes 1 cake

230g Marriage’s Finest Plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
A good pinch of salt
175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g light brown muscovado sugar
The finely grated rind 1 unwaxed lemon
4 large free range eggs, beaten to mix
50g ground almonds
350g mixed dried fruit
100g glace cherries, rinsed dried and halved
2 tablespoons milk
A little apricot jam or sherry for brushing
450g white marzipan or raw sugar marzipan
20.5cm round deep cake tin or springform, greased and lined