For baker Juliet Sear, the star of the show at Easter is always a simnel cake. Her recipe is enhanced with stem ginger to add a welcoming warmth to the sponge.
- Prepare20 mins
- Cook2 hrs 30 mins
- Total time2 hrs 50 mins
- 200g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 150g raisins
- 150g sultanas
- 100g currants
- 50g Italian mixed peel
- 125g glacé cherries, halved, rinsed of syrup
- 60g stem ginger, finely chopped, plus 2 tbsp syrup
- 200g light muscovado sugar
- 1 large orange, finely grated zest
- 4 British Blacktail Free Range Medium Eggs
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 200g self-raising flour
- 2 tbsp milk
For the filling and decoration
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- 500g golden marzipan
- Honey or sieved apricot jam, warmed, for sticking
Preheat the oven to 160ºC, gas mark 3. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm round cake tin that is 7-8cm deep. Put the dried fruit, mixed peel, cherries and ginger (but not the syrup) in a large bowl and mix with your hands to distribute everything evenly.
Put the butter, sugar, ginger syrup and orange zest in a separate bowl and cream together (using a wooden spoon, electric beaters or a freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed). Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Stir the mixed spice into the flour, then tip into the cake mixture and fold in, until just combined. Fold in the milk and fruit mixture.
Dust a work surface with a little icing sugar and roll out 200g marzipan into a circle that just fits inside the cake tin. Spoon in half the cake mixture, level off, then place the marzipan on top, pressing it down gently to level. Add the rest of the cake mixture and level the top. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 140ºC, gas mark 1, and bake for a further 2 hours, or until the cake is completely cooked through when tested with a skewer.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out, peel off the baking parchment and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. When the cake is cool, brush the top with the warmed honey or apricot jam. Divide 80g of marzipan into 11 even-sized little balls.
Roll out the rest of the marzipan into a neat circle for the top of the cake. You can use a 20cm round tin base as a guide – keep the circle an even thickness and when it’s a tiny bit bigger, sit the tin on top and trim as needed. Place on top of the cake, smooth gently to flatten, and crimp the edges to decorate.
Preheat the grill to high. Arrange the marzipan balls around the edge of the cake and, once they look even, use a dab of water under each one to stick them in place. Place the cake on a baking sheet and put it under the grill. Toast the marzipan for 2-3 minutes until golden, but keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn.
For a neater finish, invert the cake and decorate the flat part that was in the base of the tin. This cake will keep well in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Typical values per serving when made using specific products in recipe