Easter Simnel CakeCourse: Cakes, Bakes and PastriesCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Medium
The Simnel cake is traditionally a light fruit cake with a marzipan topping and 11 “Eggs” of marzipan that symbolise the 11 apostles of Jesus (minus Judas).
The cake dates back to medieval times, but in modern times it was also known as Mothers Day cake. More recently it has become better known as an Easter Cake.
175 g Currants
175 g Sultanas
4 tbsp Brandy
500 g Almond Paste or make your own see below
50 g Flaked Almonds
180 g Butter softened
180 g Soft Light Brown Sugar
3 Eggs Lightly Beaten
175 g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
45 g Ground Almonds
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Mixed Spice
1 tbsp Golden Syrup
75 ml Milk
1 Lemon Zest of
50 g Mixed Peel
Apricot Jam Smooth For The Top
- Place the dried fruit in a small bowl and pour over the brandy, set aside for as long as possible. (overnight is good).
- Heat the oven to 150c/300f/gas mark 2.
- Grease and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm loose bottom cake tin, the sides should be at least 5 cm proud of the top of the tin, cut an extra circle for the top to use later.
- At this point, if you want to make your own Almond Paste, now is a good time.
- To make your own Marzipan: You will need – 200g ground almonds 200g icing sugar, plus extra to dust, Drop of almond essence 1 tsp orange blossom water 1 egg, separate the white from the yolk.
- Place the Icing sugar and ground almonds into a mixing bowl and totally combine, add a few drops of almond essence, the orange blossom water and just the yolk of the egg.
- Whisk the egg white so it becomes loose and using a beater on the stand mixer or a wooden spoon add just enough of the egg white to combine the ingredients into a nice smooth soft dough, turn it out onto an icing sugared worktop and form into a round flat disc shape.
- Wrap the marzipan in cling film and place into the fridge to chill.
- Now the cake
- Next place the flaked almonds on a baking tray and bake in the oven until they turn golden brown in colour, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Place all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, ground almonds. salt and spices) into a large bowl and mix them well together.
- Into your stand mixer or another large bowl if you are using a hand mixer, place the softened butter and sugar and beat together until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the mix so as to incorporate all the ingredients, and continue beating.
- Place the eggs into a jug and give them a quick whisk, then while the butter and sugar mix is still beating slowly add the egg a very little at a time, if you notice the mixture begin to separate throw in a little of the flour mix to bring it back again.
- Once all the egg is combined add the milk, syrup and zest.
- At this point place the cooled flaked almonds onto your work surface and using a rolling pin roll over the almonds to crush them up.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add the flour, the soaked dried fruit and liquid, cherries, mixed peel and almonds, and using a wooden spoon gently fold in and combine all the ingredients.
- On a clean work surface dust with a little icing sugar and roll out about a third of the marzipan into a 20 cm circle, roughly 5mm thick, ( use the base of the cake tin to get the exact size). Place the remainder of the marzipan back in the chiller.
- Spoon out half the mixture into your prepared cake tin and smooth the top, now place the circle of marzipan on top of the mix and spoon the rest of the cake mix on top of that.
- Using the 2nd circle of baking parchment paper, cut a hole in the middle, place this on top of the cake and place in the oven to bake for around 2 1/2 hours.
- When checking the cake to see if it is baked through slowly open the oven door and press slightly on the top, it should feel firm but soft. Using a knife or skewer, insert into the top of the cake (try not to go as deep as the marzipan) and when you pull the knife out it should be totally clean.
- Set aside to cool before removing from the cake tin.
- Finishing off The Cake
- Heat a few tablespoons of Apricot jam in a small pan with a little water and heat through to form a smooth liquid. (If you have used regular Apricot jam, pass the melted jam through a sieve to extract any lumps).
- Roll out another round of marzipan, this time a couple of cms larger than the top of the cake.
- Brush the top of the cake with the melted apricot jam and place the marzipan neatly on top, smoothing down the edges over the sides of the cake, so it resembles a draped table cloth.
- Now here is a personal choice, you can either flash the cake under the grill now or use a kitchen blow torch, to colour the top or wait until you have the marzipan balls on the top.
- Whichever way you decide, make up some egg wash by using 1 egg and a little milk beaten together.
- Personally, l like to wait therefore having more colour on the balls than the top.
- Brush the top of the marzipanned cake very lightly so it is just sticky, no need to overdo this and either flash under the grill now or, divide the remaining marzipan into 11 equal size pieces and roll into balls and place evenly on the top of the cake.
- Again brush the tops of the balls very lightly with the egg wash, then place under the already hot grill to just colour the tops of the balls, keep a firm eye on this process as the marzipan will burn fairly quickly.
- There you have it, enjoy your Easter Simnel Cake.