Follow our step by step guide to create the perfect Simnel Cake, ideal for Mothers Day and Easter.
For the almond paste
- 250g/9oz caster sugar
- 250g/9oz ground almonds
- 2 free-range beaten eggs
- 1 tsp almond essence
For the cake
- 175g/6oz butter or margarine
- 175g/6oz soft brown sugar
- 3 free-range beaten eggs
- 175g/6oz plain flour
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
- 350g/12oz mixed raisins, currants and sultanas
- 55g/2oz chopped mixed peel
- 1/2 grated lemon zest
- 1-2 tbsp apricot jam
- 1 free-range beaten egg for glazing
For the almond paste, place the sugar and ground almonds in a bowl. Add enough beaten egg and mix to a fairly soft consistency.
Add the almond essence and knead for one minute until the paste is smooth and pliable.
Roll out a third of the almond paste to make a circle 18cm/7in in diameter and reserve the remainder for the cake topping.
Preheat oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Grease and line a 18cm/7in cake tin.
For the cake, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs until well incorporated and then sift in the flour, salt and mixed spice (if using) a little at a time. Finally, add the mixed dried fruit, peel and grated lemon zest and stir into the mixture.
Put half the mixture into a greased and lined 18cm/7in cake tin. Smooth the top and cover with the circle of almond paste. Add the rest of the cake mixture and smooth the top leaving a slight dip in the centre to allow for the cake to rise. Bake in the preheated oven for 1¾ hours. Test by inserting a skewer in the middle – if it comes out clean, it is ready. Once baked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack.
Brush the top of the cooled cake with the apricot jam. Divide the remainder of the almond paste in half; roll out a circle to cover the top of the cake with one half and form 11 small balls with the other half.
Place the circle of paste on the jam glaze and set the balls round the edge. Brush the cake topping with a little beaten egg.
Preheat the grill to high. Place the cake onto a baking tray and grill for 1-2 minutes, or until the top of the marzipan begins to brown. Alternatively, lightly heat the cake topping using a cook’s blow torch, until the marzipan is golden-brown.
Recipe courtesy of BBC Food.
Have you ever contemplated making your very own Christmas cake but a little too scared of how it might turn out? Worry no more! I have the perfect recipe with the easiest method going!
Rumour has it that it is popular to make your Christmas pudding on Stir Up Sunday which is the last Sunday before Advent, (this is traditionally the start of the season and falls on 22nd November this year). So why not make your cake on this day too?
Traditionally, families would gather in the kitchen to mix their Christmas pudding on this day. Everyone would take a turn to stir the pudding mix and make a wish for the coming new year. By tradition the pudding mixture was stirred from East to West in honour of the three wise men who travelled from the East to visit baby Jesus.
What a great way to get the family into the Christmas spirit, have fun in the kitchen and produce your very own homemade extravaganza!
Now let’s get started!
- 1kg mixed dried fruits (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 150ml Brandy, Sherry, Whisky or Rum, (plus extra for feeding!)
- 250g pack butter, softened
- 200g light soft brown sugar
- 175g plain flour
- 100g ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 100g flaked almonds
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Put the dried fruit, zests and juice, alcohol, butter and sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.
- Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas mark 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour. Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.
- Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
- To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it. Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.
Recipe courtesy of Good Food magazine.