For those of you not on a diet, here's a gorgeous recipe perfect for Easter. I’ve always loved the look of Simnel cakes – they’re so pretty. The recipe is from the new Divine Heavenly Chocolate Recipes cookbook by Linda Collister (available from Waterstones), and it looks absolutely scrummy.
230g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
A good pinch of salt
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g soft light brown muscovado sugar
4 large free-range eggs, beaten to mix
50g ground almonds
350g mixed dried fruit
100g glace cherries, rinsed, dried and halved
100g bar Divine dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons milk
450g white marzipan
A little apricot jam or sherry for brushing
Divine miniature Easter eggs
20.5cm/8in round, deep cake tin or springform, greased and lined
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt on to a sheet of greaseproof paper and set aside until needed.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; you can use a wooden spoon or an electric whisk or mixer. Gradually beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition and adding the ground almonds with the last egg. Using a large metal spoon fold in the flour followed by the dried fruit, cherries, chocolate and milk. When thoroughly combined spoon half of the mixture into the prepared tin and spread evenly. Roll-out one third of the marzipan to a circle slightly smaller than the tin. Set in on top of the cake the cover with the rest of the cake mixture. Spread it evenly then make a slight hollow in the centre so the cake rises evenly. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 170C/325F/ Gas3 and bake for a further 60 to 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted in to the centre of the cake, just down to the marzipan layer, comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack then remove from the tin and discard the lining paper.
Roll out two-thirds of the remaining marzipan to a circle to fit the top of the cake. Brush the top of the cake with a little warm apricot jam or sherry and set the marzipan disc on top. Shape the rest of the marzipan into 11 balls and arrange around the edge. Fill the centre with miniature Easter eggs and finish with a ribbon around the cake.
written by Liz Jarvis