Chocolate Simnel Cake
A traditional Easter cake with 11 marzipan balls, representing the 11 faithful apostles.
6 tbsp icing sugar
500g Silver Spoon Cakecraft finest Quality marzipan
200g unsalted butter, softened
225g Billington's unrefined light muscovado sugar
225g plain flour, sifted
50g, cocoa powder, sifted
100g Silver Spoon Cakecraft plain chocolate chips
125g Billington’s glace cherries
350g luxury dried mixed fruits
75g chopped almonds or brazil nuts
3 tbsp apricot jam
Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan 150°C/325°F, Gas 3. Grease and line a deep 20cm round cake tin with baking paper. Lightly dust a work surface with some icing sugar. Roll 125g of the marzipan to the thickness of a £1 coin and cut into a round the same size as the tin. Leave to the side whilst making the cake. Beat together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl or using an electric mixer until very pale and creamy. This should take about 5 - 7 minutes. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little flour if the mixture curdles. Fold in the remaining flour, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, cherries, mixed fruits and nuts. Stir until well-mixed but not over worked.
Spoon half of the cake mixture into the lined cake tin. Top with rolled marzipan tucking the marzipan into the sides. Top with the remaining cake mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/fan130°C/300°F, Gas 2 and bake for a further 1 and a half hours, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the cake is getting too dark in colour, cover the surface with brown paper.
Cool in the tin for 1 hour then turn out and allow to cool completely. Take another 125g marzipan and roll to the thickness of a £1 coin and cut into a round the same size as the tin. Brush the surface of the cake with warmed apricot jam. Place the marzipan round on the surface of the cake and smooth lightly. Take 150g of the marzipan and divide into 3 pieces, rolling each piece into a long thin rope (about 40cm in length). Plait the three strands together and wrap around the top of the cake. Take the remaining marzipan and roll into 11 balls. Place in the middle of the cake. Wrap a ribbon around the cake to finish it off, and serve.
Cook's tip: The cake can be stored for two weeks, if wrapped in greaseproof paper and kept in an airtight container.