Mini Easter Simnel Cakes

Apr 17, 2014 by

I remember the first time I made a Simnel cake really well. It wasn’t long after we had moved here from England and I decided I’d have a go. At that stage I wasn’t as proficient at baking and my fruit cake repertoire was Christmas cake often burnt on the outside and doughy in the centre.  As usual I skimmed the recipe and completely missed the bit where you put the layer of marzipan in the centre. Then when I read it back, thoughto myself that has to be a mistake.

Then the following Easter I made it correctly and was completely hooked. So much so that for several years I was tempted to do the same with every fruit cake I made. The marzipan layer is unbelievably delicious and sort of sinks and ripples through the cake.

Mini Easter Simnel Cakes Recipe

150g softened butter
150g dark muscovado sugar
2 large eggs
50g glacé cherries chopped
50g dates stoned and chopped
150g mixed dried fruit
25g flaked almonds
50g prunes stoned and chopped
175g plain flour
half a teaspoon baking powder
pinch of grated nutmeg, ground cloves and cinnamon
zest of one lemon and orange
1 tablespoon rum

Cream the butter and sugar. Mash the muscovado with a fork as it can be lumpy. Whisk in the eggs. Add a small amount of flour if the mixture curdles. Add the dried fruits, cherries, dates, prunes, flaked almonds, spice, zests. Fold in the sieved flour and baking powder. Finally add in the rum.

Almond Paste/Marzipan
150g ground almonds
75g caster sugar
75g icing sugar
1 egg beaten
apricot jam to glaze

Mix the almonds and sugars together. Beat the egg in a separate container and add slowly to the mix. You may not need all the egg.  It is better to add less than more. Just get in there with your hands and as my grandmother taught me, the heat from your hands releases the oil in the almonds and binds the paste. 

Roll the paste out to just under a 1cm thickness and cut rounds to fit your individual cake moulds.

Grease and line your miniature cake moulds. I used 6 moulds which were used in the bakery I worked for making individual mousses and cheesecakes and so have no base. I lined them with baking paper. 

Just under half fill the moulds with the cake mixture. Add the disc of marzipan and finish off with cake mixture. Smooth it out and make a slight dip in centre. 

Put the cakes in a preheated oven at 140C or 120C fan for an hour and a quarter. I then turned my oven up to 180C fan to brown the tops for a further 10 minutes as they were very pale

To finish off. Remove from moulds and cool. Invert them and brush the base with apricot jam. Cut out another disc of marzipan and press down gently. Brush with the beaten egg left over and place under a hot grill for a couple of minutes.

I had some mixture left over so it should be sufficient to fill a deep muffin tin with a dozen wells. The cakes will just be smaller.

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