Simnel Cake is an Easter classic – apparently it has been eaten since Medieval times as both a sweet treat and a symbolic ritual and traditionally is made as one large cake topped with 11 marzipan balls, each one representing one of the Apostles of Christ, minus Judas.
A light fruit cake, it has a layer of marzipan in the middle as well as on the top. Perfect for the marzipan lover in your life. Not so great for those who can’t stand it, because, while it is easy to pull it off the top, it is not so easy to remove from the middle as it melds with the fruit whilst baking. Yum!
I added some lemon zest also in order to add a little spring time freshness. It makes all the difference between a heavy fruit cake and a lighter one in terms of flavour.
I have to admit that I do have a soft spot for fruit cake and one reason Simnel Cake was on the must bake list is because, well, it is not all too dissimilar to Christmas cake and if you have learnt anything from visiting these parts it is that I have a bit of a thing / obsession / fantasy / fondness for all things Christmas related.
So while there is still a bit of Christmas cake lingering in the tin (What? Come on, we all know it lasts For.Ever) the addition of Simnel Cake is a welcome companion.
I am seriously wishing that I had almost given this blog a more festive name, albeit discreetly. Really, I do.
However Easter does also give me the opportunity to get the fluffy chicks back out. And again, me and plastic animals . . . an fascination that will never end. If you ever see any cute ones on your travels, send them my way. Or at least give me directions to where they are.
Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the wonder that is daffodils. So pretty. And cheerful. There are huge clusters of mini ones in the garden at the moment and even in the rain they never fail to make me smile.
Now back to cake – I made these in a silicone muffin pan so they are almost individual size. I say almost, because they are still hefty little numbers. Although you can (and will) eat a whole one in one sitting.
A whole cake to oneself? Nothing wrong with that.
Mini Simnel Cakes
- 150g sultanas
- 150g raisins
- 50g dried cranberries
- 65g chopped dates
- 75g currants (or extra raisins if you prefer)
- 62g dried cherries
- 1/2 tbsp potato flour
- 85g soft light brown sugar
- 85g butter, or dairy free baking spread if required
- 2 medium eggs
- 106g ground almonds
- 1/4 tsp mixed spice
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- zest of 1 lemon
- 250g marzipan
- 2 -3 tbsp apricot jam
- Pre-heat the oven to 150 Celsius / 140 fan / 300 Fahrenheit. If using a metal 6-hole muffin pan, grease it well. If using a silicone 6-hole pan, place it on a baking sheet in order to make it easier to take in and out of the oven.
- Place all the dried fruit in a sandwich bag along with the potato flour and mix well so that the fruit is as coated as possible. Set aside.
- In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar.
- In a separate bowl mix together the ground almonds and the spices.
- Beat the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar one at a time, alternating it with the spiced almond mix. Add the remaining almond mix and the lemon zest and mix well.
- Stir in the fruit.
- Place a spoonful of the mixture in the bottom of each hole of the muffin pan. Press it down well as the mixture does not move much in baking and you don’t want any gaps.
- Roll out half the marzipan until it is approximately 5mm thick and cut six discs that are slightly smaller than the holes in the muffin pan. Place one on top of the layer of cake batter.
- Top with the remaining batter, again making sure you press it down well.
- Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Leave to cool completely in the pan before carefully turning them out.
- Cut another six discs of marzipan to top the cakes and roll six balls for the top.
- If the tops of your cakes are quite lumpy, cut the tops off to make them as level as possible.
- Warm the apricot jam to make it easier to use and brush the top of each cake with it before placing on a disc of marzipan. Dip the base of each marzipan ball in the apricot jam to help them stick to the top of the cake.
- Store in an air-tight container.
© The Pink Rose Bakery 2015