Sunny Simnel Cake

Given that Easter in the northern hemisphere is celebrated at spring time, this delightful Simnel Cake reflects the yellow of the sun, the daffodils and the Easter chicks. That doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed on a cold autumn night in front of the fire with friends.

225g softened butter
225g sugar
4 eggs
225g plain flour
225g sultanas
110g currants
110g glacé cherries, quartered
grated zest of 2 oranges
grated zest of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
450g almond paste
2 tablespoon apricot jam

Pre-heat oven to 150°C. Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, sultanas, currants, glacé cherries, orange zest, lemon zest and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and beat together until thoroughly blended.
Place half the mixture in a buttered and lined 20cm deep round cake tin and level the surface. Take one-third of the almond paste and roll it out into a circle the size of the tin and place it on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture over and smooth the surface.
Bake the cake for about 2 hours 30 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch. Cover with foil after one hour if the top is browning too quickly. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When the cake has cooled, brush the top with the warmed apricot jam and roll out half of the remaining almond paste to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate. Mark a criss-cross pattern on the almond paste with a sharp knife. Form the remaining almond paste into 12 balls (to represent the 12 apostles). Arrange the balls around the outside.
Preheat the grill. Place the cake under the preheated grill to turn the almond paste golden.