Easter simnel cake


100g/3½oz glacé cherries
225g/8oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
225g/8oz light muscovado sugar
4 large free-range eggs
225g/8oz self-raising flour
225g/8oz sultanas
100g/3½oz currants
50g/2oz chopped candied peel
2 lemons, grated zest only
2 tsp ground mixed spice

For the filling and topping

450g/1lb marzipan
1–2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed
beaten free-range egg, for glazing


Preheat the oven to 150C/130C Fan/Gas 2. Grease and line a 20cm/8in cake tin.

Cut the cherries into quarters, put in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper.

Place the cherries in a bowl with the butter, sugar, eggs, self-raising flour, sultanas, currants, candied peel, lemon zest and mixed spice and beat well until thoroughly mixed. Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin.

Take one-third of the marzipan and roll it out to a circle the size of the tin and then place on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 2½ hours, or until well risen, evenly brown and firm to the touch. Cover with aluminium foil after 1 hour if the top is browning too quickly. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out, peel off the paper and finish cooling on a wire rack.

When the cake is cool, brush the top with the apricot jam and roll out half the remaining marzipan to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate. Mark a criss-cross pattern on the marzipan with a sharp knife. Form the remaining marzipan into 11 balls.

Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the marzipan balls around the edge of the cake. Brush the tops of the balls with beaten egg and then carefully place the cake under a hot grill until the top is lightly toasted.


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