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Simnel Cake is a rich fruit cake traditionally eaten at Easter time
It is iced with marzipan, and decorated with 11 little balls of marzipan to represent the 11 apostles minus Judas.
110g/4oz butter or margarine
110g/4oz soft brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
150g/5oz plain flour
Pinch of salt
½ tsp ground mace
350g/12oz mixed raisins, currants and sultanas
55g/2oz chopped mixed peel
½ lemon, grated rind only
1-2 tbsp apricot jam or clear marmalade
1 egg, beaten for glazing
If you wish to cheat, buy the ready-made marzipan - it doesn't taste as nice, but it will fit the bill!
For the almond paste: (Marzipan)
125g/4oz caster sugar
125g/4oz ground almonds
1 egg, beaten
½ tsp almond essence
To make the almond paste: place the sugar and ground almonds in a bowl. Add enough beaten egg to give a fairly soft consistency. Add the almond essence and knead for a minute until the paste is smooth and pliable. Roll out a third of the almond paste to make a circle 18cm/7in in diameter and reserve the remainder for topping of the cake.
Preheat oven to 140C/275F/ Gas 1. To make the cake:cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs until well incorporated and then sift in the flour, salt and mace a little at a time. Then, add the dried fruit, peel and grated lemon rind and mix into the mixture well.
Put half the mixture in a greased and lined 18cm/7in cake tin. Smooth the top and cover with the circle of almond paste. Add the rest of the cake mixture and smooth the top leaving a slight dip in the centre to allow for the cake to rise. Bake in the preheated oven for 1½ hours
Cool in tin
When you are ready to decorate the cake, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 3. Brush the top of the cooled cake with the apricot jam. Divide the remainder of the almond paste into two; roll out a circle to cover the top of the cake with one half and form 11 small balls with the other half.
Place the circle of paste on the jam and set the balls round the edge. Brush all the top with a little beaten egg.
Return the cake to the preheated oven for about 10 minutes or long enough for the almond paste to brown.