Recipe| Easter Simnel Cake

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While you may associate Easter weekend with lavish chocolate eggs, Simnel Cake is actually the traditional Easter cake. Originally, this cake was given to mothers on Mother’s Day but has somehow made its’ way to Easter Sunday.

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I am sure you have seen a lot of these cakes within M&S or Dunnes, often smaller than the one I have made here and less yellow! It is a fruit cake so maybe not to everyone’s taste, but Simnel cake is lighter than our classic Christmas cakes and well worth a try at home. It does take a little while as it’s a slow bake, but it’s easy enough once you get going.

You’ll see that there are 11  balls of marzipan on top of the Simnel cake. These actually represent the 11 Apostles – could you name them all off the top of your head? We certainly couldn’t! You exclude Judas for obvious reasons this weekend!

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Ingredients:

100g glace cherries

225g butter (softened)

225g soft brown sugar

4 large eggs (chicken, not chocolate I’m afraid)

225g self raising flour

200g currants

220g sultanas

zest of 2 lemons

2 heaped tsps of mixed spice

icing:

2 x packs of ready made marzipan

apricot jam

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Method:

  1. Preheat he oven to 150 degrees or gas mark 2. Grease and line a 20cm/8in deep round cake tin – if you’re tin is old, I recommend double lining it.
  2. Wash and dry the cherries thoroughly and chop into little quarters. If they are not dry, they may sink in the cake.
  3. Pop all cake ingredients, including the cherries, into a large bowl and beat until smooth and fully combined. Pour half of the cake mixture into the prepared tin and leave to one side for a minute.
  4. Open one packet of your marzipan and roll it out into a large circular shape. Place the baking tin on top and using a knife, cut out the shape of the tin. You should have a 20cm/8in circle of marzipan now. Gently lift this up and place it into the baking tin on top of the cake mixture.
  5. Cover the marzipan circle with the remaining cake mixture from your bowl and ensure the top is smooth before putting into the oven. Bake in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Be sure to check it halfway to ensure it isn’t burning – if it’s beginning to catch, pop a tinfoil hat on it.
  6. While the cake is in the oven, you can make the 11 Apostles. Using the leftover marzipan from your circle, you should have enough to roll out 11 balls. Leave these in a clean bowl to one side.
  7. Once the cake is fully cooked (test it with a skewer but remember there is a layer of marzipan inside so it will always come out a little sticky) tip it out of the tin and allow it to cool completely.
  8. Once it has cooled, warm up a table spoon of apricot jam to loosen it and then brush it over the top of the cake.
  9. Get your other packet of marzipan and roll it out into a big circle. If it sticks to the table, sprinkle some icing sugar over it. You need to cut another circle out, so just like you did before grab the tin and cut the same shape. Place this circle over the jam and onto the top of the cake. Use your hands to flatten it down.
  10. Place the 11 Apostles on top and use your fingers to tidy the edges of the marzipan circle on top (any shape is fine).
  11. Lastly, light your grill and pop the cake in underneath. We want the marzipan to brown very slightly. Watch it like a hawk – we don’t want it to burn! Once it has lightly browned, take it out from under the grill safely and allow the marzipan to cool down, it’ll be very hot!

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This cake definitely looks impressive and will last far beyond Easter Sunday – bet you can’t say that for your eggs! Enjoy it for your tea after Easter Sunday Roast. Happy Easter everyone 🙂

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