Make a vegan-friendly version of a classic simnel cake this Easter so everyone can enjoy a treat…
200ml soya milk
1 lemon, zested and ½ juiced
icing sugar, for dusting
250g dairy-free spread, plus extra for the tin
250g mixed dried fruit (we used sultanas, raisins and candied peel)
75g glacé cherries, roughly chopped
1 orange, zested and juiced
200g light brown soft sugar
200g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
25g apricot jam, warmed, plus extra for sticking the marzipan balls to the cake
Mix the soya milk with the lemon juice in a jug and set aside for a few minutes to thicken. Cut 150g of the marzipan from the larger block. Roll this out on a work surface lightly dusted with icing sugar until it’s just slightly smaller than the base of a 23cm cake tin. Using the dairy-free spread, butter a 23cm springform cake tin and line with a double layer of baking parchment. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
Mix the dried fruit, lemon zest, chopped cherries and orange zest and juice together in a large bowl, tossing a few times until well combined.
Beat the vegan spread with the brown sugar until pale using an electric whisk, then add the flour, almonds, baking powder, spices and vanilla. Tip in the milk mixture until you have a smooth batter. Fold in the fruit along with a pinch of salt and any juice from the bowl until well combined – don’t worry if the batter looks slightly curdled.
Spoon half the batter into the prepared tin, then gently smooth the surface with the back of the spoon and top with the round of marzipan. Spoon over the remaining batter and smooth the surface again. Bake for 30 mins, then reduce the oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2 and bake for another 1 hr 45 mins-2 hrs, or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake is well-risen and firm. Carefully remove from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into slices to serve. Will keep for two weeks in an airtight container.
Brush the warm apricot jam over the cooled cake. Cut a 200g piece from the remaining marzipan and roll it out again as before. Cut out a 23cm circle using the base of the cake tin as a guide. Use the rolling pin to help you lift the marzipan circle over the cake and gently press it onto the surface (the apricot jam will help it stick). Divide the remaining marzipan into 11 pieces and roll into balls. Use a little more jam to stick the balls around the edge of the cake – these represent the 12 apostles, minus Judas. If you like, use a kitchen blowtorch to slightly burnish the marzipan balls and topping until just golden (do this carefully so they don’t burn).