Apr 4, 2020
Simnel cake is a very old recipe, traditionally made for both Mother’s Day and Easter, and characteristically has a layer of marzipan baked into the middle of the cake. Customers come in weeks before Easter to check we will be making simnel cake that year, when it will be available and whether they can place an order.
- 1 batch of marzipan (see recipe on page 187), or 500g ready-made marzipan.
- 135g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting.
- 60g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing.
- 60g baking margarine, softened - 3 medium eggs.
- 180g self-raising flour.
- 90ml full-fat milk.
- 100g currants.
- 100g sultanas.
- 30g apricot jam, strained.
Fitzbillies simnel cake is the perfect bake to share with your friends and family over a long weekend.
1. Make the marzipan according to the recipe on page 187, ideally the day before you bake so that it has time to chill overnight (a couple of hours in the fridge is also fine).
2. Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan). Grease and line a deep 18cm cake tin (usually 8cm deep).
3. Cream the sugar, butter and margarine together in a stand mixer until pale and fluffy. Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.
4. Sift in the flour and mix, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer still running, slowly pour in the milk. Add the currants and sultanas and mix until just combined.
5. Spoon half the cake mixture into the tin and level it gently with a spatula.
6. Take 200g of the marzipan, or ready-made marzipan, and roll it into a ball. On a surface lightly dusted with caster sugar, roll the marzipan ball out into a circle the size of your cake tin. Place the marzipan on top of the cake mixture in the tin.
7. Put the rest of the cake mixture into the tin and level it gently with a spatula.
8. Bake for 35–40 minutes until the cake is golden on the top.
9. Leave the cake in the tin to cool completely.
10. When the cake is cool, take 110g of the remaining marzipan and roll it into eleven 10g balls. Put them to one side for a moment.
11. Lightly dust a surface with caster sugar and roll the remaining marzipan into a ball, then into a thick circle the size of the cake.
12. Put the apricot jam in a small saucepan and bring it to the boil. Brush the jam all over the top of the cake, reserving a little to stick the balls on.
13. Place the marzipan on top of the cake and press down gently. Press the edges in so that it fits the top of the cake seamlessly.
14. Dip the base of each marzipan ball into a little warm apricot jam, to act as glue, and place them evenly around the top of the cake.
15. Finally, if you have one, blowtorch the top of the cake to toast the marzipan a little and get a nice brown colour on the centre of the cake and the tops of each ‘disciple’. Untoasted marzipan will also look fine.
For more recipes, cake ideas, baking tips and stories buy our Fitzbillies book
Published by Nathaniel Mahoney