Chocolate orange Simnel cake with pistachio marzipan
Serves 12-14 | prep 1 hr | total time
Chocolate orange Simnel cake with pistachio marzipanSubscribe to Sainsbury's magazine
Serves 12-14 | prep 1 hr | total time
Nutritional information (per serving)
- 400g mixed dried fruits (sultanas, raisins and currants)
- 50g cut mixed peel
- 125g natural coloured glacé cherries, quartered
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- 225g self-raising flour
- 50g cocoa powder
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 200g soft butter
- 225g light muscovado sugar
- 4 medium free-range eggs
- 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
- 3 tbsp whole milk
- 1-2 tbsp shredless marmalade, warmed
- 11 mini eggs, and a 72cm length of wide ribbon, to decorate
For the pistachio marzipan
- 400g pistachio kernels
- 300g sifted icing sugar
- 1-2 medium free-range egg whites
Make a few days ahead. The cake will keep in an airtight container. Before decorating, the cake can be frozen.
- The day before, put the dried fruits, mixed peel, cherries, orange zest and juice into a bowl, stir to mix, then cover with clingfilm and set aside overnight to soak.
- Prepare the nuts for the marzipan the day before, too. Preheat the oven to 150°C, fan 130°C, gas 2. Drop the pistachio kernels into a pan of boiling water, lower the heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Drain, then leave to cool for 15 minutes. Tip on to a clean tea towel, wrap them up and rub vigorously to loosen the skins. Unwrap, then remove and discard all skins from the nuts. Spread them on a baking tray and dry out gently in the oven for 10-15 minutes – but don't let them brown. Set aside to dry further overnight.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 150°C, fan 130°C, gas 2. Grease a 20cm loose-bottomed round cake tin (at least 8cm deep) and line with baking paper. Tie a thick band of folded newspaper around the outside of the tin to prevent the cake's edges overcooking.
- To finish the marzipan, finely grind the pistachios in a food processor. Add the icing sugar and grind to a really fine mixture, then tip into a mixing bowl. Lightly whisk 1 egg white with a fork and stir in. Using your hand, knead the mixture until smooth. If it stays a bit crumbly, whisk the second egg white and add a little more, a tiny drop at a time until it binds together – take care as it can become too wet very quickly. Turn out on to a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar and knead until smooth. Divide into 3 even-sized pieces.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, mixed spice and a pinch of salt together. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together for 5 minutes, using an electric hand whisk, until lighter in colour and texture. Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each egg, then beat in the last 2 eggs, one at a time, with 1 tablespoon of the sifted flour to prevent curdling. Gently fold in the remaining flour mixture, followed by the soaked fruits, chocolate pieces and milk.
- Spoon half the cake mixture into the tin and lightly level the surface with the back of a spoon. Roll out one piece of the marzipan into a 20cm disc using a rolling pin lightly dusted with icing sugar and lay it on top of the cake mixture. Press down gently, then cover with the rest of the cake mixture. Lightly level the top, then make the shallowest of dips in the centre. This will help to give your cake a nice flat top.
- Bake the cake for about 2½ hours, covering with a loose folded sheet of baking paper after 2 hours, once it is nicely browned. When a skewer pushed into the centre comes away cleanly, the cake is done.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 1 hour, then remove and leave to go cold on a wire rack.
- To decorate, roll out a piece of the marzipan into a neat 20cm disc. Brush the top of the cake with some of the warm marmalade and lay the marzipan on top. Crimp the edges neatly with your fingers. Form the rest of the marzipan into 11 small neat balls, dot the underside of each one with a little marmalade and space evenly around the outside of the cake. Make a small dip in the top of each ball with your finger and add a mini egg to each one. Tie a wide ribbon around the outside of the cake.