Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Unexpected Simnel Cake.

I've been meaning to make this cake for the previous, mmmmmmmm, at least 4 Easters. Mostly as an excuse to eat marzipan in great blobs- WhAT? It's Easter-time for feeeeasts. But also so I could feel like 'that person', the person who knows that *Easter/any particular holiday* is around the corner and gets organised enough to cook something special and suited to such occasion, having it all ready and waiting for that elusive occasion, talked about so much over Christmas, when someone "unexpectedly calls round".

Now I don't know about you, well I do actually and I know you're not quite as metal as me in this, area at least, but I try to keep 'unexpected' to a minimum, and someone happening to pop in for tea and cake is a rare occurrence (gin maybe). But anyways, that's by the by, because I like the notion of it and the feeling that one could handle  unexpected should it be required and maybe even enjoy it.

And look, I seem to have got there, I am 'that' person: evidenced by approaching Easter and my stash of Simnel Cake. By the way, Simnel Cake, in case you're unaware, is rather traditional Easter fare. The 11 marzipan balls on top represent each of the disciples minus that nasty Judas one. 

So here you are, a recipe for you to be 'that person' and enough time to get there should you fancy. But if not, head on over to my house, I shall be poised over the kettle. With Love and Cake.

Simnel Cake
Adapted from a Mary Berry recipe

A few notes:
  • This is the sort of cake that keeps really nicely, just getting more moist and fruity after a few days left mingling in its tin.
  • Feel free to change up the fruit if you like/dislike some things more than others, or maybe feel like getting a little exotic and adding other things like stem ginger. Just keep the overall quantity the same.
  • If you don't fancy dealing with the 2 tears, it would still be a Simnel Cake if you halved the recipe and cooked it in one tip, just using marzipan on top. Lots of recipes do call for this method, but I wanted to max out on the marzipan.
Makes a tall 18cm cake
You will need

2 18cm cake tins, greased and bottoms lined

100g glacé cherries, quartered
225g butter, softened
225g soft brown sugar
4 eggs
225g self raising flour
100g currants
50g candied peel
zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
2 tsps mixed spice
450g marzipan
1-2 tbsp jam (apricot is traditional but I don't worry too much)
1 egg, lightly beaten

  • As always first job is to preheat the oven, to 150°c.
  • Wash the cherries in cool water to remove all the sticky syrup, drain and dry thoroughly with kitchen towel. Set them aside for a minute.
  • In one large bowl, pop your butter, sugar, eggs, flour, fruit, zest and spice and beat with a wooden spoon until everything is nicely combined.
  • Divide the cake mixture between both of your prepared tins and bake for 1-1 1/4 hours, until bronze and firm. If you're worried the cakes are browning too much too early, just wrap the top in some foil.
  • When they're done leave them to cool in their tins for around 10 minutes or until just cool enough to handle.
  • Meanwhile, roll out the marzipan into 2 18cm circles and make 11 balls out of the rest.
  • When the cakes are cool enough, turn them out of their tins.
  • Turn one of the cakes upside down onto your serving dish so the flatter side is uppermost.
  • Heat the jam gently so it gets nice and syrupy and brush over the top of the upside down cake.
  • Press one of your marzipan circles over the jammy cake, smooth it over and brush the top of that with more jam.
  • Now top this with the final cake's kind of up to you which way up this one goes, just go with which ever side you think will look neatest as the top.
  • Brush jam over the top of this cake and top with the second circle of marzipan.
  • Brush the marzipan all over with the egg and then attach the 11 marzipan ball evenly around the outside.
  • Brush the balls with a little egg too and then turn your grill on so it gets nice and hot.
  • Pop your cake under the grill until the balls and the centre gets a little singed. DO NOT wander off, it wil NOT take long and you will CRY if your cakes gets ruined (sorry for strictness, but it is important that you don't die in a house fire/your cake doesn't burn).
  • Noooooow you're ready, sit back and wait for the doorbell.

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