Simnel cake is probably seen as a little retro these days. Certainly it is not something you see as often as you once did and I have certainly not made it in a very long while. I can’t even find the recipe my mother always used – and if I am honest the only reason she made it was because my father was particularly fond of both fruit cake and marzipan rather than anything symbolic. Nevertheless it is a good cake and, like my father, I always loved the gooey marzipan layer that is reminiscent of Stollen. Its Easter and these are unusual times – so why not push the boat out.
This version (which needs a deep 20cm cake tin) comes from BBC food pages.
- 250g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins and candied mixed peel)
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 500g marzipan
- 250g butter
- 200g light brown sugar
- 4 eggs, plus 1 beaten for glazing
- 175g plain flour – or gf flour and 1 tsp xantham gum
- 100g ground almonds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g glacé cherries, halved
- 3 tbsp apricot jam
- Put mixed dried fruit in a pan with with the orange juice and zest and 2 tbsp water and heat gently in a pan, stirring now and then until the liquid has been absorbed and leave to cool. (Note – you can skip this part if you are pushed for time – or if like me have an allergy to oranges but it does make the cake moister )
- Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2.
- Roll out a third of the marzipan and use the base of a cake tin as a template to cut out a circle. Wrap the remaining two-thirds of marzipan in greaseproof and set aside for later.
- Line the cake tin with a double layer of parchment.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy.
- Add the eggs, flour, almonds, baking powder, lemon zest, mixed spice and vanilla and mix until well combined.
- Add cherries and the cooled soaked dried fruit.
- Mixture should be soft dropping consistency. If it is dry then add a little more milk (esp if using GF flour)
- Put half of the cake mixture into the tin.
- Top with the disc of marzipan
- Add remaining cake mixture, and level the surface with a spatula.
- Bake for 2 hrs or until a skewer inserted in the centre cake comes out clean.
- Cool in the tin for 15 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack to get cold.
- Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam.
- Roll out the remaining marzipan and use the base of the cake as a template to cut out another disc.
- Place it on top of the cake. (crimped edges are optional 🙂 )
- Roll the remaining marzipan into equal-sized balls (tradition says this should be 11 to represent the apostles but there is no rule!)
- Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the apostles around the outer edge of the top disc, and brush them with a little egg.
- Put under a hot grill for a minute or two until just starting to caramelise – Warning – the marzipan will burn easily so take care!
- Leave to cool
- You can make this cake in advance as it will easily keep in a sealed tin for a week