Simnel Cake

A light moist fruit cake now celebrated as part of Easter but historically was always baked for Mothering Sunday.   Very easy to make, bake and decorate.  


TIP : if you don’t have the two sugars in stock use all caster sugar.

Start the night before (if you remember) but no worries if not. Place the dried fruit into a small bowl then grate over the lemon zest then the juice.  Give the whole lot a stir then cover and set aside until the morning.  The fruit will plump up and absorb the liquid.

When ready to bake start by washing the cherries in a sieve then dry on kitchen paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 125 degrees c (fan)

In a roomy mixing bowl cream together the butter/margarine and sugars until light and fluffy. If using brown sugar make sure there are no lumps. Add the eggs one at a time  – whisking well between each addition.  Take a spoonful of the measured flour and add to the cherries in a small bowl.  Stir them around so that the cherries are well separated and each one coated in flour.

Sift together the remaining flour, baking powder, salt and spice – stir together to combine then fold this into the cake batter. Next add the fruit and lastly the cherries.

Spoon 450g (or half of the mixture) into the base of the prepared cake tin then smooth out with the back of a spoon.

Roll out 125g of the marzipan to a circle. Sprinkle icing sugar on the work surface to prevent it sticking then use the base of the tin as a template and I use a pizza cutter to cut out a circle.  Ideally your circle should be just slightly smaller than the cake tin so you will need to trim your circle once the tin has been removed.

Place this circle of marzipan over the raw cake mix then top off with the rest of the batter and smooth out.

This cake needs to bake evenly with no rise and no burnt or overbaked sides. A foil collar will do the trick here.  Take a length of foil, fold in half lengthways then wrap around the outside of the cake tin.  The foil will be higher than the cake tin.  Secure with string.

Pop the cake into the oven and bake for 1 hour then turn the temperature down to 100 degrees c (fan) and continue to bake for another three hours.

The cake will be a dark golden colour, firm to the touch with a flat top.

Take the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.

Remove from the tin when cold, remove the lining papers then transfer to a cake board or cake stand.

Roll out the remainder of the marzipan using icing sugar to prevent sticking and use the tin again to cut out a second circle. Brush the top of the cake with the jam then secure the marzipan.  Flute the edges and decorate with the marzipan trimmings.

The marzipan balls on the top I think are better if they are not large and clumsy. I used just 3g of marzipan per disciple.  Toasting the balls with a blow torch, as well as being traditional also gives the marzipan a lovely flavour.


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