readingSimnel Cake

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Simnel Cake
Recipe - 08 April 2019

Introduction

The perfect cake to celebrate Easter. This is a lighter spiced fruit cake than that we associate with Christmas, and the baked marzipan centre results in a deliciously moist, very moreish cake.

Preparation

1 hour

Cook Time

105 mins - 120 mins

Serves

8

Difficulty

Moderate

Ingredients

  • FOR THE MARZIPAN
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 140g icing sugar, plus more to dust
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 2 drops of almond extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • FOR THE CAKE
  • 220g unsalted butter, very soft, plus more for the tin
  • 170g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 220g light muscovado sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 200g sultanas
  • 70g currants
  • 150g glace cherries, halved
  • 50g mixed peel, in chunks
  • TO FINISH
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam (or honey)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • Freshly picked and dry edible flowers, such as primroses
  • Selection of ribbon 70cm by 4-5mm

Method

1. For the marzipan, put the ground almonds and sugars into a bowl. Add the almond extract, lemon juice and enough egg to bind. knead only lightly. Remove one-third, roll out on a work top dusted with icing sugar and cut out a 20cm circle. (Seal the remainder in a plastic food bag until needed.)

2. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Butter a 20cm round, deep cake tin and line with baking parchment. Fold a strip of brown paper around the outside and tie with string.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a bowl and add the ground almonds. Place the butter, sugar and zests into the bowl of a food mixer. Cream until light and fluffy, then add the egg slowly, with 1 tbsp of the flour mixture halfway through to prevent curdling. Add the remaining flour mixture a little at a time, alternating with the dried fruits, glace cherries and peel.

4. Spread half the batter into the tin and add the circle of marzipan. Spoon over the remaining batter, smooth and bake for 1¾ -2 hours, or until well risen and a deeper brown. (If necessary, lay a piece of foil with a hole over the top to stop it over-browning.) Leave in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn on to a rack to cool.

5. Use half the remaining marzipan and a work top dusted with icing sugar to roll out another 20cm circle. Warm the jam gently in a pan, then push it through a sieve (if using honey, simply warm it gently). Turn the cake over and brush the flat surface with most of the jam. Place the circle of marzipan on top, and make a criss-cross pattern on it with a knife. Use the side of a teaspoon or the back of a knife to scallop the edge.

6. Roll 11 balls from the remaining marzipan, and stick them on with the remaining jam.

7. Glaze with egg yolk, and place under a hot grill (watch like a hawk), or use a kitchen blowtorch, until it is lightly toasted gold.

8. Decortae with flowers and ribbons just before serving.

Copyright (c) Fiona Cairns, 2013. Photography by Dan Jones. Extracted from SEASONAL BAKING by Fiona Cairns published by Orion Publishing

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