Grease and line a 20cm (8in) deep round cake tin. Preheat the oven to 150℃ (130℃ fan) 300°F /gas mark 2.
Beat 225g (8oz) butter and 175g (6oz) sugar together until light and fluffy. Then beat in 4 eggs one at a time. Add the 275g (10oz) flour and 1½ teaspoon mixed spice and fold in. Next add the lemon zest, juice, 500g (1lb2oz) dried fruit and 50g (2oz) cherries and mix well.
Roll out 500g (1lb 2oz) marzipan to a circle the same size as the cake tin. Scoop half the cake mixture into the tin and level the surface. Carefully put the marzipan circle on top and press down gently.
Now scoop the remaining cake mixture on top of the marzipan and spread level. Bake in the centre of the oven for 2½ – 3 hours. To test if the cake is cooked, insert a skewer in the centre. It will come out clean when the cake is cooked.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin for at least 1 hour then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Roll out ¾ of the 500g (1lb 2oz) remaining marzipan to a circle the same size as the cake. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam and place the marzipan on top.
Using a dinner knife score the surface of the marzipan with a diamond pattern. Divide the remaining marzipan into 11 pieces and roll into balls. Arrange the balls on top of the cake, securing with a dab of apricot jam.
Place the cake under a preheated grill and grill until lightly browned. Watch carefully to avoid it burning.
Simnel cake will keep for up to 1 month if stored in an airtight container in a cool place. It can be frozen before decorating for up to 3 months.