Make: 1 18cm cake
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours 30 minutes
500g (18oz) mixed dried fruits
150g (5oz) sultanas
5 tbsp orange flavoured liqueur
175g (6oz) unsalted butter, softened
175g (6oz) soft brown sugar
4 knobs of stem ginger coarsely grated
1 tbsp of the syrup from which the ginger has been taken
3 eggs, beaten
225g (8½oz) plain flour
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground mixed spice
500g (18oz) yellow marzipan
500g (18oz) ready rolled white icing
1 Mix all the dried fruits in a bowl, add the liqueur and leave overnight. Grease and line an 18cm cake tin with non-stick baking parchment and double wrap the outside of the tin with brown paper, securing with string. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/R2.
2 Put the butter, sugar and mixed grated ginger in a large bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs a little at a time, add a little flour if the mixture looks like it is curdling. Once all the egg is added stir in the flour and spices, then the soaked fruits and any juices and mix well.
3 Set aside ¼ of the marzipan for decoration. Roll the remainder into a ball and cut in half and then roll one half out into an 18cm circle. Pour half of the cake mixture into the prepared tin and level out. Cover with the disc of marzipan and top with the remainder of the cake mixture. Bake for 2¼-2½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and leave to cool in the tin.
4 Transfer the cooled cake on to a baking board and turn upside down so that the smooth base is on the top. Glaze the top and sides of the cake with the ginger syrup. Roll out the second half of the marzipan ball into a 20cm circle and cover the cake, making sure to overlap the sides.
5 Cut the white icing into strips of 1cm width and lay them 2-3cm apart across the cake horizontally. Next vertically interlace the strips 2-3cm apart across the cake to give the lattice effect. Again, ensure the lattice strips overlap the sides of the cake. Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 equal balls and caramelise with a blowtorch and arrange these equally around the cake. Finally decorate the cake with your choice of ribbon.
Did you know
Simnel cake recipes date back as far as the 17th century. Traditionally made for Easter with a similar recipe to Christmas cake, they are distinguished by the use of the marzipan decoration. There is debate over the number of balls to be used on top. Since they are said to represent the Apostles, some believe there should be 11, excluding Judas, while others say there should be 13 to include Christ