Simnel cake is a traditional light fruit cake with a hidden almond filling and marzipan topping. It has been served at Easter since at least the medieval times, and is usually served with 11 marzipan balls on top to represent the 12 apostles, minus Judas. More recently simnel cakes have also been served on Mothering Sunday.
1. Preheat the oven to 165C.
2. Roll out one-third of the almond paste. Using the base of the cake as a guide, cut out an 18cm disc.
3. Grease the cake tin, then line the bottom and side with greaseproof paper.
4. Combine all the cake ingredients in a bowl. Beat well until thoroughly blended. Spoon half of the cake mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Top with the pre-cut disc of almond paste.
5. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top of the disc and smooth the surface.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden brown and firm to the touch. If the cake is browning too quickly cover the top of the cake with greaseproof paper.
7. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin, and leave to cool fully.
8. Warm the apricot jam and brush on top of the cake.
9. To decorate the cake, roll out half of the remaining almond paste and use the tin to cut out another 18cm disc. Put it on top of the jam and crimp the edges. Roll the remaining almond paste into 11 even-sized balls. Place the balls evenly around the edge of the cake, attaching them with egg white.
10. Brush the tops of the balls and the almond paste top with egg white. Place under a hot grill for 1-2 minutes until golden.
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