Easter Simnel Cake

4.3/5 rating (3 votes)
  • Makes: 1 x20cm (8in) Cake
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Ready in: 2 hours
  • Print:
Easter Simnel Cake

This traditional cake has many stories attached to it, from a cake made by young girls in service at large stately homes, to one to take home on leave at Easter, to a couple who could not agree on whether to cook a fruit cake or sponge for Easter – they were called Simon and Nellie, so they named it Sim-Nel. The decoration is also very traditional. It’s layered with marzipan and grilled with 11 balls of marzipan on top, each one representing one of the apostles (minus Judas). Some people say an extra one should be added to represent Jesus, making 12, but it’s really up to you. This cake is very Lancastrian and especially popular around Bury.

Ingredients

  • For the cake
  • 225g (8oz) unsalted butter, soft
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs, beaten
  • 225g (8oz) self-raising flour
  • 25g (1oz) ground almonds
  • 225g (8oz) currants
  • 115g (4oz) sultanas
  • 50g (2oz) candied peel
  • chopped very finely
  • 100g (3½oz) natural-colour
  • glacé cherries, chopped
  • Finely grated zest of 2 large lemons
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground mace
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsps brandy
  • For the covering:
  • 500g (17½oz) natural marzipan
  • 2 tbsps apricot jam, sieved
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 100g (3½oz) fondant icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsps lime juice, sieved

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Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°c/325°F/ gas 3. Butter a 20cm- (8in) deep cake tin and line with 2 layers of greaseproof paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until thick and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time then fold in the rest of the cake ingredients, adding the brandy last.
  3. Half-fill the prepared baking tin with the cake mixture.
  4. Roll out the marzipan into a disc to just fit into the cake tin. Lay carefully over the mixture and press down to expel any air bubbles.
  5. Top with the rest of the cake mixture, level and bake in the oven until set and nicely browned.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool.
  7. When cooled, remove the paper, turn the cake upside down and cover the top with the apricot jam.
  8. Role out the second half of the marzipan cut to fit the top of the cake perfectly, press down and roll flat with a rolling pin. Using the offcuts, roll out 11 or 12 balls.
  9. Decorate the edge of the marzipan with a pinching effect, glaze the top with the beaten egg and stick down the balls. Brown under a hot grill.
  10. Mix a little icing sugar and lime juice together until you have a runny consistency then pour into the middle of the cake and set.
  11. Wrap in a large ribbon, so you can just see the cake and marzipan topping.

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