A moist, lemony sponge topped with chocolate ganache and marzipan decorations. It looks wonderfully festive and is a great alternative to traditional Christmas cake.
Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C/Gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm deep cake tin with baking parchment.
Measure the butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds, eggs and lemon zest into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high speed for 1 minute. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface with a palette knife or spatula.
Bake for 45 minutes, then cover with foil to prevent the top from browning and cook for a further 15 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack.
Pour the cream into a small pan and bring almost to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted. When cool but not setting, pour the chocolate mixture over the cooled cake and put aside to set.
To decorate, colour 175g of the marzipan with green food colouring to turn it the colour of holly leaves. Using a holly-leaf shaped cutter, cut out 20 holly leaves. Mark the veins with a knife and lay over a rolling pin and leave to dry. Colour the remaining marzipan with the red food colouring and roll into 30 ‘berry’ size balls. Leave to dry.
To serve, remove the cake from the tin and carefully peel off the parchment paper so that you get a clean line between the cake and the chocolate layer. Arrange the holly leaves and berries in a wreath around the edge of the cake.