I love Easter, I always think it marks that spring has arrived and the garden has begun to come back to life. There’s the promise of warmer, longer and lighter days on the horizon and then there’s the food and drink and the chocolate! Perfect for me 🙂
Easter means we are often able to spend some time together as a family and we usually make a trip to Cornwall to visit my mum and have a few days by the beach. This year has been a bit different but we can at least have a few day trips out. We might not be able to get together inside as a wider family for an Easter lunch but we can still enjoy the food. Although I love a chocolate egg and a creme egg in particular, as much as anyone, my favourite memory of eating at Easter time has to be Simnel cake. My mum and dad always made one and I decided to give it a go myself this year! I’m not a frequent baker and I managed this quite easily as it is simply: measuring, mixing together and putting in a tin! I reckon anyone can have a go at this and especially if you love marzipan! 🙂
The Simnel cake has been known since at least medieval times. A Simnel cake today is a light fruit cake that appears around Mother’s Day and Easter. It has a layer of marzipan baked in the middle and a second layer on top. It’s decorated with 11 balls to represent the apostles minus Judas, and sometimes there’s a ball representing Christ in the middle.
The recipe I have used is courtesy of Mary Berry’s Simnel cake 🙂
- 175g light brown sugar
- 175g butter, softened, (I use stork) plus extra for greasing
- 175g/6oz self-raising flour
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 50g ground almonds
- 3 tbsp milk
- 100g sultanas
- 100g glacé cherries, quartered (rinse and dry before chopping)
- 100g dried apricots, cut into small pieces
- 2 tsp mixed spice powder
For the topping
- 450g marzipan
- 3 tbsp apricot jam
- 1 free-range egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 140C Fan. Grease a 20cm/8in round (18cm/7in tin also works), deep-sided, loose-bottomed tin with butter and line the base with baking paper.
- Put the cake ingredients into a large bowl and beat together until well incorporated. Start by creaming the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy and then beat in the eggs, follow this by sifting in the flour, then all the remaining ingredients. Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.
- Roll one-third of the marzipan to the same size as the base of the tin and place on top of the cake mixture.
- Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top of the marzipan and level the surface. Bake for 1¾-2 hours or until golden-brown on top and firm in the middle. If the cake is beginning to brown but not cooked through cover it with tin foil. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.
- Heat the apricot jam in a pan, then brush the top of the cooled cake with a little warm jam. Roll out half of the remaining marzipan to fit the top of the cake. Place the marzipan on the cake and use your thumb to crimp around the edges.
- Make 11 balls from the remaining marzipan and place these around the edge of the cake fixing them to the marzipan with a little beaten egg.
- Brush the marzipan with the egg and glaze under a hot grill for about 5 minutes (turning the cake round to ensure even browning). You can do this using a cook’s blowtorch if you prefer.