Monday 21 March 2016

Simnel Cake

A bit of a diversion from Chocolate Month, but given it's Easter this week, it seemed sensible to whip out something seasonal.

I've never made a fruit cake before, so the biggest surprise here was the length of time it was in the oven! Fortunately, the Milan-San Remo race was on TV, and being almost 300km long, it's perfectly suited to a long bake. As always, I made my own marzipan (something everyone should do, it's way nicer, and better for you, than the sickly-sweet shop-bought stuff). The other main diversion I did from the recipe (from Mary Berry's Baking Bible) was that I greased and floured the cake tin, rather than lining the base and sides with baking parchment. I've had really good results with this before, and it worked well this time as well.

Simnel Cake - Recipe

Marzipan Ingredients

  • 250g ground almonds
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 40g egg white (1 large egg white)
  • ½tsp almond essence
1) Place all the ingredients in a stand mixer with a dough hook attached

2) Mix until the mixture starts to clump slightly

3) Using your hand, form a dough ball, then knead a few times until it's consistent

4) Wrap in clingfilm and place to one side for now

5) Now pre-heat the oven to 130'C (fan oven temperature)

6) Take a 20cm cake tin, and grease and flour the inside. 

Cake Ingredients

  • 100g glacĂ© cherries
  • 225g softened butter
  • 225g light muscavado sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 225g sultanas
  • 100g currants
  • 50g chopped, candied peel (supermarkets sell this in tubs)
  • 10g ground mixed spice
1) Chop the cherries into quarters, and place in a sieve

2) Rinse the cherries under a tap (this removes the stickiness)

3) dry the cherries in kitchen towel thoroughly (but don't bash them about)

4) Put all the ingredients in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment

5) Mix until thoroughly combined and blended

6) Pour half the mixture into the cake tin, and level it.

7) Take one third of the marzipan, and roll into a 20cm circle

8) Place and press down the marzipan into the cake tin, on top of the mixture

9) Pour the other half of the mixture over the top of the marzipan layer, and again level the top

10) Place in the oven for 2½ hours


  • 3tbsp Apricot jam
  • Beaten egg
1) Once the cake is baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. After 10 minutes, remove it from the tin and place on a wire rack to complete cooling.

2) Roll the rest of the marzipan out to 5mm thickness on a surface slightly sprinkled with icing sugar

3) Cut out a 20cm diameter circle (I used a saucepan as a template)

4) Take the cut-offs, and form 11 balls of marzipan

5) Gently heat the apricot jam (I put it in the microwave for 20 seconds)

6) Using a pastry brush, spread the jam over the top of the cooled cake

7) Place the circle of marzipan on top of the cake, pressing it down slightly

8) Crimp the edges of the marzipan with your fingers

9) Score the marzipan with square shapes

10) Using a pastry brush, brush the marzipan all over with beaten egg

11) Place the 11 balls around the edge of the cake, evenly spaced (good luck dividing by 11!)

12) Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the balls with beaten egg

13) Place the cake under a grill until the marzipan has gone a golden brown