Easter has to be one of my favourite celebrations of the year, I love the food, the thought that Spring has arrived and summer is hopefully just around the corner. The clocks change, evenings are lighter and we are finally seeing the sun, it puts a massive smile on my face.

This Easter has been truly special and very busy. It started on Good Friday with Rieanna and Stephen moving into their first home together, a very proud moment for me, but a little emotional as it felt like I was losing my baby! Sunday we did a family afternoon tea and there were 5 generations under one roof, which I felt was rather special and on the Monday Hubby cooked a fantastic leg of lamb for my Dad and after dinner everyone popped into see him. So I have done a pile of baking, loved every minute and had the best Easter ever with my very fabulous family.

I have always wanted to make a Simnel Cake, but as I am the only one who eats fruit cake in our house I don’t usually bother, this year as my Mum and my Nan were coming and after being inspired by the wonderful Mary Berry I decided to make one.

The recipe is simple, straight forward and tastes divine and it was really special having a cake so traditional sat on the afternoon tea table, with pretty crystallized primroses it truly symbolized spring.

I will make this fruit cake again many times during the year as it is easy and uses fewer ingredients that an extravagant Christmas one does, I will just leave the marzipan decorations off of the top, but will still put the layer in the middle as it made the cake so moist. The only thing I will change next time is, thicker marzipan layers in the middle and on the top, as I love marzipan and it just didn’t seem enough.

So I hope you all had a fabulous Easter, had many happy moments and made some lovely memories and of course had lots of fun baking.

Buon appetito

100g/4oz glacé cherries
225g/8oz butter, softened
225g/8oz light muscovado sugar
4 large eggs
225g/8oz self-raising flour
225g/8oz sultanas
100g/4oz currants
50g/2oz chopped candied peel
2 lemons, grated zest only
2 tsp ground mixed spice

For the filling and topping
450g/1lb marzipan
1-2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed

Preheat the oven to 150C/280F/Gas 2. Grease and line a 20cm/ 8in cake tin

Cut the cherries into quarters, put in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper.

Place the cherries in a bowl with the butter, sugar, eggs, self-raising flour, sultanas, currants, candied peel, lemon zest and mixed spice and beat well until thoroughly mixed. Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin.

Take one-third of the marzipan and roll it out to a circle the size of the tin and then place on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 2½ hours, or until well risen, evenly brown and firm to the touch. Cover with aluminium foil after one hour if the top is browning too quickly.

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.

When the cake is cool, brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam and roll out half the remaining marzipan to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate. Mark a criss-cross pattern on the marzipan with a sharp knife. Form the remaining marzipan into 11 balls.

Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the marzipan balls around the edge of the cake. Brush the tops of the balls with beaten egg and then carefully place the cake under a hot grill until the top is lightly toasted.