Simnel cake is a British fruit cake that is served at Easter.
Traditionally it should have 11 marzipan balls placed around the rim to symbolise the apostles (Judas excluded)
As I'm not religious, but do love cake, I replaced the apostles with Pac-Man chasing ghosts. I then realised I could give it the pun-tacular title of a Pâques-Man cake (Pâques is French for Easter) and giggled for longer than was necessary at my own joke.
The cake is tasty and light, the marzipan layer in the middle really lifts it above mere fruitcake.
175g soft brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
175g plain flour
½ tsp ground mixed spice
400g mixed fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas and mixed peel)
2 tbsp apricot jam
1 packet of yellow marzipan
1 free-range egg, beaten for glazing
Preheat oven to 140C. Grease and line a 18cm cake tin.
In a large mixing bowl, 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 mixed spice a little at a time.
Finally, add the mixed dried fruit and stir into the mixture.
Put half the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
Take a third of your marzipan and roll it out into a circle 18cm in diameter. Lay this circle on top of the cake batter in the cake tin.
Add the rest of the cake mixture and smooth the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for 1¾ hours or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes away cleanly.
Remove from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack.
Brush the top of the cooled cake with the apricot jam.
Divide the remainder of the marzipan in half; roll out another circle to cover the top of the cake with one half and use the remaining marzipan to decorate your cake, either with balls or Paque-man.
Place the circle of marzipan on the jam glaze and set the decorations round the edge. Brush the cake topping with a little beaten egg.
Preheat the grill to high. Place the cake onto a baking tray and grill until the top of the marzipan begins to toast.
You can also use a blow-torch to toast the marzipan if you are lucky enough to have one!