When Easter rolls around, it brings with it a wide range of delicious treats. While we’re all familiar with the classic options of the season, such as chocolate and hot cross buns, many of us forget about Simnel cake. This light fruit cake is traditionally eaten during the Easter period in both the UK and Ireland. It is distinguished by two layers of almond paste or marzipan, one in the middle and one on top. I love this tasty cake – so this week I’m sharing with you my favourite recipe for Simnel cake. Let’s get started…
· 500g marzipan
· 225g caster sugar
· 4 medium eggs
· 225g plain flour
· 2 tsp ground cinnamon
· Finely grated zest of two lemons
· 225g sultanas
· 110g currants
· 110g glace cherries, quartered
· 225g unsalted butter, softened
· Finely grated zest of 2 orange
· 2 tbsp apricot jam
· 1 egg, beaten
My method for the perfect Simnel cake
1. Like with any bake, you’ll want to pre-heat the oven. For this, you should heat your oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2.
2. Next, you’ll need to prep. Line the base and sides of a 20cm round deep cake tin with baking parchment, cutting it so that it stands 5cm proud of the top of the tin.
3. I find it easier to get my marzipan shaped first. This way the cake tin is empty and it has time to sit. To do this, roll out one-third of the marzipan to about a 5mm thickness and cut a circle that will just fit inside the cake tin. Set aside.
4. Next, it’s time for the batter. Beat the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, cinnamon, orange zest and lemon zest together in a large bowl until thoroughly blended. Stir in the sultanas, currants and glace cherries until thoroughly combined.
5. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to assemble your mixture ready for baking. Put half of the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Lay the prepared marzipan circle over the mixture, then spoon the rest of the cake mixture on top and smooth the surface.
6. Bake for about two hours until the cake is well risen and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
7. When the cake is cooled, warm the apricot jam gently with a splash of water in a small pan over a low heat, sieve, then brush over the top of the cake. Roll out half of the remaining marzipan and cut to fit the top of the cake. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges decoratively.
8. Form the remaining marzipan into 11 balls. Brush the marzipan on the cake with beaten egg, then place the marzipan balls evenly around the edge. Brush the balls with beaten egg too. Use a cook’s blowtorch to brown the balls. Alternatively, do this by putting the cake under a hot grill for a few moments; watch it carefully because the marzipan burns easily.
And that’s it! It really is that simple. This easy to make treat is sure to go down a treat this Easter. Why not try it out for yourself?