Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Simnel Cake

It's that time of year when a simnel cake is expected when folk drop in for a cup of coffee. Simnel cake historically was eaten on the middle Sunday of Lent, acting as encouragement to keep going I imagine. It then became linked to Mothering Sunday but more recently we in the UK consider it one of the Easter treats. The two layers of marzipan, one in the actual centre of the cake, the other on top, are what distinguish this cake from my regular light fruit cake. This is where commercial marzipan simply doesn't work, due the high sugar content of commercial marzipan, it behaves quite differently when cooked, so if you would like to make this recipe do read the post "2 tips for Christmas baking" where you will find the recipe for home made marzipan click here for the recipe.

Hooray for Leichtenstein, country number 86 on the list of followers!

For this cake you will need,
200g of plain flour
60g of SR flour
250g of unsalted butter at room temperature
250g of light muscovado sugar
4 medium eggs
200g of golden sultanas
200g of raisins
150g of glacé cherries
80g of candied peel
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
Zest of 1 lemon
100ml of sweet sherry
1/2 teaspoon of salt
700g of marzipan
A little beaten egg for glazing
A little apricot jam

Begin by soaking the dried fruit and candied peel overnight in the sweet sherry, you can speed up this process by  placing the fruit and sherry in a microwave for 3 minutes. The fruit will soften and plump up a little, then continue to soak for an hour or two. Prepare a tin (18cm by 9cm) by lining with baking parchment. Switch on the oven to 140C Make the cake by creaming together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time then fold in the sifted flours, mixed spice and salt. Finally add the soaked fruit and candied peel and the lemon zest. Roll out 300g of the marzipan to form a disc which will fit perfectly inside the baking tin and another 300g similar disc which will fit perfectly on top of the finished cake. Roll the remaining 100g of marzipan into 11 equal size balls. Place half the cake mixture in the bottom of the cake tin, smooth out the surface before placing on one of the discs of marzipan. Place the remaining mixture on top of this disc, sandwiching it between two portions of cake mixture. Place in a moderate to low oven 140C for 2 hour 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly when pushed into the middle of the cake. The layer of marzipan will inhibit the baking of this cake so test to see if the cake is fully baked and if it shows signs of needing more time, cover with kitchen foil, turn the temperature down a little and give a further ten minutes or so. This cake is unlikely to have a dry texture so do take the time to fully bake. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool. Brush the top of the cake with a little apricot jam to act as glue for the top disc of marzipan, brush sparingly with the beaten egg, place the eleven small balls of marzipan around the edge, brush these too with the beaten egg and place in a hot oven 200C for 4 minutes. This cake can be made up to a week before Easter and will delight lovers of proper marzipan.

You will not only have enough marzipan for this recipe if you make a double quantity of the recipe above but you'll also have enough left over to bake some almond biscuits click here for the recipe, just omit the candied lemon peel, bonus!

1 comment:

  1. Another lovely recipe and this one comes with a bonus :). Happy Easter Tobi