Easter Crafts: Simnel Cake

You will need :

1/2 lb unsalted butter
zest of 2 large lemons
1/2 lb caster sugar
4 large eggs
6 oz chopped mixed peel
6 oz sultanas
1 1/4 lb currants
14 oz plain flour
baking powder
1 level teaspoon mixed spice

for decoration
4 oz ground almonds
4 oz icing sugar
4 oz caster sugar
1 large egg
lemon essence
3 teaspoons strained lemon juice
chocolate eggs

Grease a 9 inch round deep cake tin and line it with greased greaseproof paper. Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Cream together the butter, lemon zest and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and stir in the peel and fruit.

Sift the flour with a little salt, a good pinch of baking powder and the spice. Fold this into the creamed mixture. If necessary add 1-2 tablespoons of milk to relax the mixture if it is too thick. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top. Bake in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Once the cake is cooked, cool it on a wire rack.

Meanwhile mix together the ground almonds and all the sugar. Add half of the lightly beaten egg with a few drops of lemon essence and the strained lemon juice. Knead thoroughly until the almond paste is smooth. Roll out 2/3 of the almond paste and cover the cooled cake with it. Make sure that the cake is completely cool before you start decorating it.

Shape the remaining almond paste into 11 balls - to represent the Apostles, excluding Judas - and set them around the edge of the cake. Tie a ribbon around the side of the cake and decorate the centre of the cake with chocolate eggs.