Simnel Cakes were originally baked as gifts for Mothering Sunday but over the years the Simnel Cake has become linked to Easter.
The cake is a fruit cake with a layer of marzipan in the middle. Traditionally it is decorated with eleven marzipan balls which represent the apostles. Yes, technically there were twelve apostles but “Judas” was left off for bad behaviour.
This recipe produces a light moist fruitcake that is perfect for this time of year. The mini silicon cupcake cases add a modern fun twist to the traditional decoration
You will need:
2 Oranges (zest and Juice)
Mixed Dried Fruit 450 g (1 lb)
Softenend Butter 200 g (7 oz)
Light Brown Sugar 200 g (7 oz)
Self Raising Flour 350 g (12 oz)
Mixed Spice (optional) 1 teaspoon
Milk 2 tablespoons
Marzipan 1 Kg
Icing sugar for rolling out the marzipan on
1 egg (beaten) for glazing the marzipan
2 tbsp apricot jam
3 tbsp white royal icing
Zester or grater
20 cm (8 in) round baking tin
String (not plastic!)
11 cake cases (silicon, foil or paper)
To make your Simnel Cake
Using a zester or grater, grate the zest off the oranges and place in a bowl. Add the juice from the oranges and tip the dried fruit into the bowl. If you have time you can leave the fruits like this overnight to absorb the juice.
Put the oven on to heat (160 C (Gas mark 3) and line your baking tin. Stand two strips of waxed paper around the outside of the tin and secure with string. Stand two around the inside of the tin. Cut out three disks (you can use the tin as a template to draw around). Place two in the bottom of the tin and place the third to one side.
Knead and roll out 350 g (12 oz) marzipan to form a 20 cm (8 in) disk. Place to one side. Put the butter, sugar, flour, spice, eggs and milk into a mixing bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
Tip any remaining juice in the dried fruit bowl away and stir the fruit into the cake batter using a strong metal spoon.
Spoon half the batter into the prepared cake tin then place the marzipan disk on top. Spread the remaining batter on top of the marzipan. Cut a small hole out of the middle of the final paper disk and place it on top of the cake. The hole will allow steam to escape. Bake the cake for about 1 1/2 hours and leave it to cool in the tin.
Divide 250 g (8 oz) marzipan into eleven round balls. Place each ball into a cake case and stand on a baking tray. Dab the top of each ball with a little beaten egg and place under a hot grill for 30 seconds or so until the top has browned slightly. Keep an eye on them though – they move from “lightly toasted” to “burnt” very quickly! Place the balls to one side to cool down.
Stand the cooked cake on a baking tray and dab a little apricot jam over the top of the cake. Roll 400 g (14 oz) marzipan into a flat 20 cm (8 in) round disk and place on top of the cake. Place under a hot grill and brown as before. Allow to cool then carefully lift and place the cake onto a cake board or plate.
Decorate each marzipan ball with a teaspoon of royal icing and an almond then place in a ring around the top of the cake. Secure each cake case in place with a little royal icing. Add a ribbon around the side of the cake to finish.