Sour cherry and chocolate simnel cake with hazelnut marzipan
- March 2016
- Serves 12-16
- Hands-on time 40 min, oven time 1 hour, plus cooling
John Whaite’s modern take on a classic simnel cake tops a rich chocolate and sour cherry cake with dark chocolate ganache and hazelnut marzipan balls. It’s not to be missed! Give it a go this Easter.
- 24.5g (9.7g saturated)
- 70.6g (53.7g sugars)
- 120g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
- 100g caster sugar
- 300g dark brown muscovado sugar
- 135g (when drained) cherries in kirsch
- 100g full-fat Greek yogurt
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 320g self-raising flour
- 80g cocoa powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 200ml cherry juice drink (or pomegranate juice)
- 250g dried sour cherries
For the marzipan
- 1 large egg
- 75g caster sugar
- 80g icing sugar
- 15g liquid glucose (from the baking section in supermarkets)
- 1 tbsp brandy, rum or vodka
- 200g blanched hazelnuts, finely ground in a food processor
For the ganache
- 100g Bournville chocolate
- 100ml double cream
- 50g Nutella Cocoa powder for dusting
you’ll also need…
- 23cm x 8-10cm deep cake tin
- Heat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas 3½. Grease and line the base and sides of a deep 23cm cake tin.
- For the marzipan, put the egg, sugar, icing sugar and glucose into a heatproof mixing bowl and set over a pan of barely simmering water. Beat with a handheld electric mixer until very pale and fluffy – about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat in the alcohol, then tip in the ground hazelnuts and mix to a thick paste using a wooden spoon. Using your hands, knead the mixture vigorously for 1-2 minutes until fairly smooth. It won’t be as smooth as regular marzipan, but it will come together. Wrap in cling film and set aside.
- Put the butter, sugars, drained cherries and yogurt in a food processor. Whizz until mixed, then add the remaining ingredients, except the sour cherries, and whizz to a smooth batter. Add the dried sour cherries and pulse until just incorporated.
- Tear off two thirds of the marzipan and carefully roll between 2 pieces of baking paper into a disc just smaller than the cake tin (the hazelnut marzipan is more fragile than regular almond marzipan). Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 equal balls.
- Pour half the cake batter into the tin, then top with the marzipan disc. Pour in the remaining cake batter, then bake for 90 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean.
- To make the ganache, roughly chop the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl with the cream. Set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bowl) and stir together until you have a smooth, glossy ganache. Remove from the heat and beat in the Nutella. Leave to cool at room temperature until spreadable.
- When the cake comes out of the oven, allow it to cool completely in the tin, then invert onto a cake stand. Spread the ganache over the top, then arrange the 11 balls of marzipan around the edge. Sift a little extra cocoa powder over the top to finish.
Make the cake up to 48 hours in advance, then keep in a sealed container (not in the fridge).
Note: contains raw egg.
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