Easter loaf

I don’t think that I know anyone (apart from maybe my dad) who actually likes rich fruit cake. Don’t get me wrong I’ll eat it at Christmas but only really as a vehicle for clotted cream (much like my dad!) It also takes quite a while to prepare, especially if you are going to go to all the trouble of ‘feeding’ it with alcohol. So that said, I’m not really a fan of Simmnel cake. The marzipan appeals to me a lot, I absolutely love marzipan, but I think I’d rather have a hot cross bun as my Easter treat.
This is a happy medium between the two, all the flavours of hot cross buns (but without having to wait for dough to rise) finished off with yummy marzipan. It has a wonderful, crumbly, moist texture.

Easter loaf

Ingredients
makes one loaf

100g soft brown sugar
115g mixed dried fruit (I used raisins, sultanas and cherries)
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
300g plain flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g marzipan (plus extra for decorating)
150ml fresh orange juice
30g butter (melted)
1 egg
50ml milk
1 tbsp apricot jam (to glaze)

Easter loaf

Pre-heat your oven to 190°c and lightly grease a loaf tin (line the bottom with grease proof paper if you are worried about the loaf sticking.)
Roll the marzipan into about 12 even sized balls and set them aside.
Place the sugar,salt and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl and stir together, making sure that there are no clumps in the sugar. Add the fruit and stir again. Sift in the flour, spices and raising agents and then mix it all together. Make sure that it is well combined at this stage and that the fruit is evenly distributed. Make a small well in the middle.
Using a separate bowl or jug, whisk together the orange juice, egg and butter before incorporating the milk. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and stir a couple of times. Like making muffins, you don’t want to over-mix the batter or it will become dense and heavy. It should be just combined.
Pour half of the batter into the loaf tin and scatter over the marzipan balls. Follow this with the remaining batter and then smooth off the top. Bake the loaf for 45-50 minutes, it should feel springy but have quite a crusty top once it’s baked. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. You don’t have to decorate the loaf, it tastes just as good plain but it’s pretty straight forward to gussy it up a bit.
Roll out a little more marzipan so that it is a few millimetres thick. If things get a bit sticky then dust it with a little icing sugar. Cut out suitably pretty spring shapes. Warm the jam and brush it over the top of the cake before placing on your marzipan decorations.

Easter loaf