This is one of my favourite cakes, partly because of my love affair with marzipan, but this cake is also a great way to use up any of the dried fruit you may have in your cupboards. It is a traditional Easter cake which is usually decorated with 11 balls of marzipan to represent the 11 disciples of Jesus (leaving out Judas), but you can decorate it however you wish… mini eggs, chicks, flowers etc.
This recipe also involves cooking together a number of the items in a saucepan before baking. This allows the flavours to all meld together and the fruit to absorb some of the tasty liquid before it is baked. It is a fab shortcut to having the flavour of a cake that is made ahead of time and has been left to mature. The technique can also apply to Christmas cakes.
I will be making this cake this week, ahead of the Easter weekend, but because of the lockdown, I don’t have any citrus fruit in the house. I do have lots of dried cherries though, so I might up these to provide that bit of ‘zing’ that the lemon/orange might provide. You can tweak this recipe as you need to if you don’t have all the ingredients in the list, just keep the butter, sugar, egg and flour ratio the same.
You can also add all sorts of different dried fruit into this recipe (cranberries, currants, raisins, sultanas, dried cherries, mixed peel etc. Just keep the overall amount the same (1lb, 6oz).
- 8oz dried sour cherries
- 8oz sultanas
- 6oz currants
- 6oz light soft brown sugar
- 6oz butter
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 25ml brandy or rum
- 1tsp honey or cherry jam
- 3 eggs
- 7oz plain flour
- 3oz ground almonds
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1 packet of marzipan
- Step 1 Put the cherries, sultanas, currants, sugar, butter, zest and juice of a lemon and orange, cinnamon, brandy/rum and honey/jam into a large saucepan and place over a low heat. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted and then leave to simmer gently for 10 minutes. Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes.
- Step 2 Whilst your mixture is cooling, preheat the oven to gas 4/160 degrees (140 fan).
- Step 3 Line an 8inch diameter, deep, round tin with 2 layers of baking parchment, leaving a couple of inches parchment poking up round the top of the tin to help avoid scorching the top of the cake.
- Step 4 Divide the marzipan into 2 and roll out one portion and cut a circle slightly smaller than the diameter of the tin.
- Step 5 After 30 minutes, add to the mixture the eggs, flour, ground almonds and baking powder and mix.
- Step 6 Place half of the mixture into the tin and smooth out. Place the circle of marzipan into the tin and then pour the rest of the mixture on top and smooth out.
- Step 7 Place into the oven and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours until springy to the touch. Check after 1 hour and 15 minutes and, if needed, place an extra piece of parchment over the top (to stop the top of the cake being burnt).
- Step 8 Leave in the tin to cool completely.
- Step 9 Once cool, turn the cake out of the tin. Roll out the remaining marzipan and cut a circle to the diameter of the top of the cake. Jam can be used to help stick the marzipan to the cake and apricot is traditionally used but cherry jam works equally well here. .