Apricot Almond Easter Simnel Fruitcake recipe
PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 April 2020
Steph Blackwell shares a delicious Easter recipe
I think Easter may be my favourite festive occasion; it’s full of promise, springtime growth, longer days, lambs in the fields… I’m smiling at the very thought of this as I type away. Nowadays, I think a lot of us are accustomed to associating Easter with an abundance of chocolate in the form of Easter eggs, chocolate crispy cakes, rich chocolate cakes and brownies. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great and not to be forgotten… but for me, Easter is all about the fruit and nuts, and I’m always keen to incorporate a bit of tradition into my baking. So, for this month’s recipe, I have decided to opt for a fruitcake.
Now, I have a confession to make… I’m not a massive fan of fruitcakes per se… I know what you’re thinking – ‘why on earth have you decided to give us a fruitcake recipe, Steph?’ Just bear with me; this one is an exception. This isn’t your standard, rich, lengthy-prep fruitcake; instead it’s a moist light sponge, bursting with apricots, sultanas, almonds and a hint of citrus. I’ve topped it with a thin disc of homemade marzipan and 11 marzipan balls. This cake is completely versatile in terms of decoration though – you can serve it as it is, frosted with your favourite cream cheese icing or adorned with crystallised fruit, nuts or edible flowers to welcome in spring.
All that’s left for me to say is: Happy Easter, and happy baking.
For the cake
120g sultanas; 3 tbsp brandy; 200g unsalted butter; 200g soft light brown sugar; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 3 medium eggs – approx. 130g without shell; 160g plain flour, sifted; 1 tsp baking powder; 80g ground almonds; 40g toasted flaked almonds; 120g dried apricots – chopped into small chunks; 100g mixed peel; zest and juice of a lemon*; zest and juice a small orange*
(*combined liquid measurement = 85ml)
Marzipan cake covering
150g icing sugar (plus extra for kneading/rolling); 125g ground almonds; 1 medium egg white 30g; 1 tbsp apricot jam
Pre-heat oven to 160C/140C fan (160C on oven thermometer), grease and line the base and sides of an 8-inch springform loose-bottomed deep cake tin. Soak the sultanas and apricots in brandy for at least a couple of hours.
In a freestanding mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between each addition. Stir in the sifted flour, baking powder and ground and flaked almonds. Next add the brandy-soaked fruit, mixed peel and the zest and juice of the lemon and orange. Beat once more on a low speed until the fruit and nuts are evenly distributed. Scrape into the cake tin, smoothing the surface.
Bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour 15 mins.
While the cake is in the oven, prepare the marzipan. Measure out the icing sugar and ground almonds into a food processor, blitz until very fine – pulsing to avoid releasing too many oils from the almonds. Add the lightly whipped egg whites to the processor and continue to mix until it starts to come together. Remove from the processor and knead until well combined. Wrap in cling-film and pop in the fridge for at least 1 hour until ready to use.
Check the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre – it should come out clean. If the skewer comes out with any uncooked mixture stuck to it, return to the oven for a further 10 mins. Once baked, allow to cool in the tin.
Once completely cooled, remove the cake from the tin. To decorate, first place a tablespoon of apricot jam in a saucepan and gently heat. Meanwhile, remove the marzipan from the fridge, dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan to a thickness of approximately 5mm. Using the base of your 8-inch tin, cut out a neat circle, pop to one side. Gather up the remaining marzipan, knead lightly back into a ball, before pinching off 11 chunks weighing approx. 10g and rolling into neat round balls. Once the apricot jam is warm, use a pastry brush to lightly spread across the top of the cake, place the disc of marzipan on top and crimp the edges as desired. Next arrange the 11 marzipan balls atop the cake, secured with another light dab of the apricot jam. Add further or alternative decorations as desired.
The cake should keep decorated, or wrapped in greaseproof paper/tin foil, and stored in an air-tight container for at least a week.