For the marzipan
- 125g caster sugar
- 125g ground almonds
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ tsp almond extract
For the cake
- 110g butter
- 110g soft brown sugar
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 150g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- ½ tsp ground mixed spice
- 350g mixed raisins, currants and sultanas
- 55g mixed peel, chopped
- ½ lemon, grated zest only
- 1-2 tbsp apricot jam
- To make the marzipan, place the sugar and ground almonds in a bowl. Add enough beaten egg to achieve a fairly soft consistency, then add the almond extract and knead until smooth and pliable.
- Roll out a third of the paste to make a circle 18cm (7″) diameter, reserving the rest to top the cake and to make the marzipan balls. Set aside.
- For the cake, first preheat the oven to 140°C/Gas 1. Grease and line an 18cm round cake tin, making sure to line the sides as well as the base.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs until well mixed, and then sift in the flour, salt and mixed spice. Add the dried fruit, mixed peel and lemon zest and mix well.
- Spoon half the mixture into the cake tin, smooth the top and cover with the circle of marzipan. Add the rest of the mixture and smooth the top, leaving a slight dip in the centre to allow for rising, so you end up with a level top. Bake for 1½ hours, then remove from the oven to cool.
- Once fully cooled, brush the top of the cake with the apricot jam. Divide the remaining marzipan into two. Roll one half out into another 18cm (7″) circle and place on top of the cake, using your fingers to give it a crimped edge. Roll the remaining marzipan into eleven balls and place, evenly spaced, around the top rim.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Place your decorated cake on a baking tray and return to the oven for approx. 10 minutes, or long enough for the marzipan to brown.
Did you know?
Simnel cakes have been made and eaten around Easter since at least the Middle Ages. The marzipan balls that adorn the top usually number 11 – one for each of Jesus’s apostles, bar Judas Iscariot.