Easter Simnel Cake
I have been making Simnel Cake for 20 odd years now. It’s a fruit cake with a layer of marzipan baked in the middle and then iced with marzipan. There are 12 marzipan balls to represent the apostles – 11 if you don’t include Judas, which I always do.
What you'll need
One 8” deep cake tin, double lined with greaseproof paper.
- 6 oz butter (soft )
- 6 oz soft dark brown sugar
- 4 medium eggs
- 8 oz plain flour
- 1 level teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- 8 oz sultanas
- 8 oz currants
- 2 oz glace cherries
- dried and roughly chopped
- 2 oz candied peel
- finely chopped
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons full fat milk
- 9 oz ground almonds
- 9 oz icing sugar
- 2 egg yolks + 1 yolk to glaze
- approximately 1 tablespoon Brandy or Whiskey
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly or apricot jam
- To make the marzipan, sift the icing sugar into a large bowl and add the ground almonds, mix together and make a well in the centre.
- Beat the yolks with the Brandy and a squeeze of lemon juice, add this to the almond mixture and mix together with a spoon and then use your hand to bring the mixture together
- Add more lemon juice if needed. Knead lightly and cover with cling film.
- Meanwhile cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
- In a small bowl beat the eggs together and then add slowly to the mixture a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
- If the mixture looks like it is going to curdle you can add a spoonful of flour.
- When all of the egg has been added , sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in using a metal spoon.
- Then add the dried fruits, orange and lemon zest and mixed spice and fold in lightly.
- If the mixture seems very heavy you can add some / all of the milk to lighten it.
- Spoon half of the mixture into the tin and then using one third of the marzipan roll out a circle of marzipan to fit and place on top of the cake mix.
- Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top.
- Level off and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 ½ – 3 hours or until the centre feels firm and the cake is golden brown.
- Allow to cool and then roll out half of the remaining marzipan in a circle to fit the top.
- Brush the surface of the cake with a little warm apricot jam and place the marzipan on top, trim the edges if need be.
- Brush with a little beaten egg yolk and place under a hot grill until just beginning to turn golden.
- You must watch it at this point as it will burn very quickly.
- Roll the remaining marzipan into 12 little balls ( to represent the apostles ) and stick on top using a little of the jam.
- Brush the tops with a little of the egg wash and place under the grill again until coloured a little.Add a little circle of foil in the middle to prevent the marzipan burning.