Friday, 22 April 2011
Simnel cake is one of those traditional British foods that probably change recipe in every town. Eaten since medieval times, it is simply a spiced fruit cake layered with marzipan and topped with 11 little marzipan balls that represent the true disciples of Jesus.
My version is as simple as can be and one that has become an annual tradition for my daughter and I to make. Sticky and soft from a layer of molten marzipan, it is difficult for me to explain in words just how wonderful this cake is. So go ahead and make one for yourself. Easter or not Easter, it is a sure-fire crowd pleaser.
150g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp mixed spice
50g ground almonds
150g self raising flour
300g mixed fruit
Zest and juice of 1 orange
500g ready-made marzipan
1 - Pre-heat the oven to 160C/GM3. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with a removable base.
2 - In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Quickly beat in the eggs, pour in the almonds and sieve in the flour. Tip in the remaining ingredients (except for the marzipan) then combine thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
3 - Pour half of the mixture into the cake tin. Half the marzipan and roll out on a piece of cling-film (to prevent it sticking to the bench) until roughly the same size as the cake tin. Press the cake tin on top to make a line then roughly cut out. Fit into the cake tin and press down. Pour over the remaining cake mixture.
4 - Bake on the middle shelf for 1 hour 30 minutes. If it begins to brown too quickly, loosely cover with a piece of baking paper.
5 - Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
6 - To finish, roll out the remaining marzipan and do exactly the same as with the middle section, cutting out the left overs to roll into 11 little balls. Top with the marzipan and decorate the edges with the balls. If you have a small blow torch, lightly toast the marzipan in places. Alternatively, flash under a hot grill.
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