Traditional Simnel Cake

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Ingredients

For the cake

175 g g butter butter
175 g g light brown sugar light brown sugar
175 g g self-raising flour self-raising flour
1 tsp tsp baking powder baking powder
1.5 tsp tsp cinnamon cinnamon
1 tsp tsp ground ginger ground ginger
3 eggs egg
50 g g glacé cherries glacé cherry
chopped
200 g g sultanas sultana
150 g g raisins raisin
40 g g almonds almond
1 lemons lemon
zest only
1 oranges orange
zest and juice

For the marzipan

225 g g icing sugar icing sugar
plus extra to roll out
1 tsp tsp vanilla extract vanilla extract
1 tsp tsp almond essence almond essence
optional
2 tbsp tbsp apricot jam apricot jam

Simnel cake

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2:30 h
(38)

Method

  1. Begin by preparing the marzipan. Mix the icing sugar, caster sugar and almonds in a large bowl and add the vanilla and almond essence. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
  2. Beat the egg in a cup and pour a little into the bowl, mixing it into the dry ingredients using the tip of a knife.
  3. Squeeze over the lemon and add a little more, then mix again until the mixture begins to clump. At this point use your hands to bring it together, adding the remaining egg if required.
  4. Knead the marzipan paste just enough to ensure all the dry ingredients have been mixed in - if the mix still feels a little dry add more icing sugar to form the right consistency.
  5. Shape the marzipan into a ball and wrap in cling film, then store in the fridge until required.
  6. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/140ºC fan/gas mark 3. Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin.
  7. Measure out the dried fruit into a bowl and pour over the orange juice. Set aside and leave to soak while you prepare the rest of the cake mixture.
  8. Spread the almonds out across a baking tray and toast in the oven for 8 minutes. After this time, tip onto a plate and leave to cool.
  9. Combine the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and spices in a large bowl and add the orange and lemon zest (if you like citrus flavour and chunkier texture, use a coarse grater for the zest).
  10. Add the eggs to the bowl and whisk using a hand mixer until completely combined, stirring any dry ingredients from the sides into the mix as you go.
  11. Finely chop the toasted almonds and fold these into the cake mixture, along with the dried fruit and orange juice.
  12. Pour half the mixture into the lined cake tin and smooth to form a level surface with the back of a spoon.
  13. Cut off roughly a third of the marzipan and roll out into a circle roughly the same size as the tin (it may be easier to roll it out between two pieces of cling film). Lay the marzipan circle in the tin and top with the remaining cake mixture. Cut out a 20cm disc of baking paper and pierce a small circle in the centre, then lie this on top of the cake mixture.
  14. Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until springy and cooked through.
  15. Leave to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
  16. To decorate, roll out half the remaining marzipan into a disc, using the tin as a template. Melt the apricot jam in the microwave for 30 seconds, then brush this over the top of the cake.Lie the marzipan on top of the cake and smooth down, crimping round the edge a little with the back of a spoon.
  17. Shape the remaining marzipan into 11 small balls and space these evenly around the edge of the cake, using a little apricot jam to stick.
  18. Toast the marzipan lightly under a hot grill (or using a blowtorch) until golden.

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