- March 2015
- Serves 12
- Hands-on time 45 min, oven time 2½-2¾, plus soaking
This rich and fruity Easter simnel cake is made with dried fruit, warming spices and decorated with marzipan. Here, Edd Kimber uses ground almonds for extra richness and tops the cake with 11 marzipan balls, which traditionally represent Jesus’s disciples.
- 22.9g (8.3g saturated)
- 88.1g (77.6g sugars)
- 170g sultanas
- 170g raisins
- 170g currants
- 85g mixed candied peel
- 85g glacé cherries
- Finely grated zest 1 large orange
- 3 tbsp brandy (or orange juice)
- 170g unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 170g light brown sugar
- 4 medium free-range eggs, lightly beaten
- 170g plain flour
- 85g ground almonds
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- Icing sugar to dust
- 450g golden marzipan
- 2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed in a small saucepan or low microwave
You will also need
- Deep 20cm cake tin
- A couple of hours before baking the cake, put the dried fruit, peel and cherries into a large bowl with the orange zest and brandy (you can use orange juice instead if you prefer) and stir together to combine. Set aside to allow the fruit to soak.
- Heat the oven to 150°C/fan130°C/gas 2 and grease a deep 20cm cake tin generously with butter. Line the base and sides of the pan with a double layer of baking paper and set aside until needed.
- Put the butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat together with an electric mixer for around 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs a little at a time, beating until fully combined before adding more.
- In a separate bowl mix together the flour, ground almonds, a pinch of salt, cinnamon and mixed spice, then add to the butter mixture and beat together to combine. Add the fruit mixture to the cake batter and mix together with a wooden or metal spoon until evenly combined. Scrape half the cake mixture into the prepared tin and set aside.
- Dust the work surface with a little icing sugar and roll out about a third of the marzipan into an 18cm diameter circle. Put this in the tin on top of the cake mixture. Scrape in the remaining cake mixture and level the top, making a slight depression in the middle (which will help the baked cake have a flat top). Bake in the oven for about 2½-2¾ hours until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To decorate, dust the work surface with a little icing sugar and roll out about two thirds of the remaining marzipan into a 20cm wide circle. Brush the top of the cake with most of the warmed apricot jam and carefully place the marzipan disc onto the cake. Crimp the edges using your fingers, then roll the remaining marzipan into 11 small balls (see Know-how). Use the remaining apricot jam to stick the balls to the outer edge of the marzipan top.
- To give the classic burnished finish, either place the cake under a hot grill for a few minutes until the marzipan starts to brown, or use a kitchen blowtorch to gently heat and brown the marzipan (see Know-how).
The cake will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
In accordance with tradition, the 11 marzipan balls represent the 12 apostles minus Judas. Some people use 12 balls to include one for Jesus, but 11 is the classic number.
Kitchen blowtorches are useful for all sorts of things, from melting sugar for crème brûlée to getting a sheen on chocolate icing. Make sure you buy a decent one, though, as cheaper ones are feeble and tend to break easily. We recommend the Kitchen Craft Master Class Deluxe Professional Cook’s blowtorch, available from Amazon or cookshops.
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