How to make simnel cake: Our ultimate guide

 Simnel cake recipe

 250g butter, softened

 250g light soft brown sugar

4 medium eggs

250g self-raising flour

 2 level tsp mixed spice

250g sultanas

125g currants

 175g glac cherries

 125g ready-to-eat dried figs, chopped

 Grated zest of 1 lemon

 Grated zest of 2 oranges

 2 x 500g packs white marzipan

2tbsp ground almonds

11 flaked almonds

Simnel cakes are a classic Easter bake, so if you’re tempted to make one this year, our handy step-by-step guide should help you produce perfect results.

Simnel cakes are traditionally made for the family to share on Easter Sunday, They are topped with 11 marzipan balls that represent the twelve apostles, minus Judas – who betrayed Jesus.

Marzipan isn’t just used to top the cake, the traditional fruit cake is given a burst of flavour by the hidden marzipan centre and the slightly toasted marzipan topping.

Our classic simnel cake is made in a square cake tin but you can make yours in a round one, loaf tin or even make it into bite-sized cupcakes – the choice is yours.

18cm (7in) square cake tin, lined with baking parchment

 Set the oven to cool, Gas Mark 2 or 150?C.
Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and beat together. Add the eggs, flour and mixed spice alternately and mix well. Add all the fruit and citrus zest and mix again. 

 Cut 1 block of marzipan into 4 equal lengths and then in half again, lengthways, to make 8 sausage-shaped strips to fit the width of tin. Put a third of the cake mixture into the tin and spread evenly over the base. Lay 4 of the marzipan strips across the mixture. 

Put half of the remaining cake mixture into the tin and lay the remaining 4 marzipan strips across, the opposite way to the first layer. Top with the rest of the mixture and level the top. Cook in the centre of the oven for 3-3? hrs, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then remove cake from tin and level the top. Turn the cake over. 

Cut a third off the second block of marzipan and reserve. Roll out the larger piece to measure about 30 x 20cm (12 x 8in) and cut into thin strips. Take 2 strips and place at right angles on top of the cake, along 2 of the sides. Place 2 more strips next to them and weave them in. Keep laying on more strips, under and over each other, to make a woven pattern on top. Put under grill to brown slightly.  Use the reserved marzipan and trimmings to make 11 neat cubes and 11 balls. Roll the balls in the ground almonds.  Arrange the cubes in a circle on top of the cake and place a ball on each one, using a little water to hold in place. Stick a flaked almond in each ball. ?

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