James Martin’s Simnel Cake
- 175g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing.
- 175g dark brown soft sugar
- 3 eggs
- 175g self-raising flour
- 2tsp mixed spice
- 1tsp ground ginger
- 25g ground almonds
- 90g cherries, washed and dried, then quartered
- 90g stem ginger, finely chopped
- 90g sultanas
- 90g dried apricots, roughly chopped
- 90g dried cranberries
- 1kg natural marzipan
- 3 tbsp apricot jam, warmed
Preheat the oven to 170C/150 Fan/Gas 3. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm round, deep cake tin.
Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, then fold in the milk, flour, spices, almonds, cherries, ginger and dried fruit. Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.
On a surface dusted with icing sugar, roll the marzipan out to 3mm thick, then cut out a circle a fraction smaller than the inside of the tin. Place on top of the cake mixture, spoon over the remaining mixture, then level the surface.
Bake for 1hr 45mins – 2 hrs or until golden-brown, risen and firm in the middle – a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. If the top is getting too dark, cover with a circle of baking paper. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 mins before turning out onto a rack.
Roll the remaining marzipan out to 3mm, then cut out a circle the same size as the cake. Brush the cake with warmed apricot jam, then lay the marzipan on top. Roll the remaining marzipan into 13 balls and arrange evenly around the edge of the cake. Place under a hot grill or glaze with a blowtorch until the tops are just golden.