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A Simple Simnel Cake

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I've been working at creating an index of my recipes, which isn't very easy.  I've been doing this blog for a very long time now, and posting new recipes pretty much every day through all those years  . . .  so it is a somewhat daunting feat, but I will persist and eventually you will have a full index that you can look up.  In going through the recipes I realised that I had never ever posted a recipe for a Simnel Cake.  Simnel everything else but  no cake, and Simnel Cakes and Easter go together like peas and carrots!

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A Simnel cake is a light fruit cake with two layers of almond paste or marzipan, one in the middle and one on top, that is toasted, and eaten during the Easter period here in the United Kingdom, Ireland and some other countries.  I think it's also made for Mother's Day, but I'm not entirely sure.   I did not bake a full Simnel Cake  . . . because I didn't have enough Marzipan in, but I did find a recipe for a Simple Simnel Cake which I baked in its place and it turned out lovely.

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It is a white fruit cake, or light  . . .  and is stogged full of dried fruits and glace cherries, the flavours of oranges (zest, juice and cointreau)  . . . with a layer of marzipan in the centre.  I do love marzipan, don't you?  It is extremely lovely in this cake.  It goes so well with cherries you know.

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It's baked in a loaf tin, but do be warned you will need a large one.  It's a lot of cake.

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The top is glazed with a simple orange glaze icing and topped with caramel crusted almonds.  The original recipe called for whole blanched almonds, but I didn't have any of those. I did have flaked however and they worked beautifully.

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So what you get is a beautiful fruity cake, with a delicious layer of almondy marzipan in the centre, a scrumptious glaze on top and those beautiful crunchy sweet almonds scattered over the top.  This is a cake that just begs to be served with a nice hot cuppa.  Do indulge . . .  and Happy Easter.

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*A Simple Simnel Cake*
Serves 16 to 18

This is a simple recipe I adapted from one found in the paperback magazine book entitled BBC Good Food Cake Collection.  Simnel Cake is a traditional Easter Cake here in the UK.  It can be rather over complicated, so it's nice to have a simple version to play with.  Love the candied almonds on top!  If you have any leftovers, use them as a salad topping!  You will need a large deep loaf tin. 

the zest and juice of 2 large oranges
2 TBS Cointreau
350g of mixed dried fruit (2 1/2 cups)
100g whole glace cherries (2/3 cup)
250g pack of marzipan (1/2 pound)
200g butter, softened (14 TBS)
200g caster sugar (1 cup)
350g of self raising flour (2 1/2 cups)
4 large free range eggs
2 TBS milk
For the frosting:
125g of sifted icing sugar (scant cup)
zest of one orange plus 1 - 1 1/2 TBS orange juice
For the almonds:
50g of toasted flaked almonds (generous half cup)
100g caster sugar (1/2 cup)

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Make the candied almonds. Have ready a lightly buttered baking sheet. Toast the almonds carefully in a skillet, over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Tip out into a bowl.  Add the sugar and let it sit, undisturbed until it begins to melt.  Swirl every now and again until it is completely liquid and turns a golden caramel colour.  Don't be tempted to rush this process as you will end up with burnt sugar.  Medium heat is sufficient.  Remove from the heat. Tip in the almonds, stirring to coat.  Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and tear them apart with two forks while they are still hot, breaking them up into little clumps.  Allow to cool completely.  Remember hot sugar is HOT.  Don't touch.

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Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F gas mark 3.  Butter a large loaf tin and line it with baking paper.  Set aside.

Put the mixed dried fruit into a bowl along with the orange zest and juice and the cointreau.  Let to set while you make the batter.

Cream the butter and sugar together.  Beat in the eggs.  Tip iin the flour and milk and beat all together until you have a lovely smooth batter. Stir in the fruit plus their juices to combine. 
Shape the marzipan into a log roughly the length of the loaf tin.  Roll out to the width of the loaf tin.  Trim as necessary.

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Spread half of the cake batter into the lined loaf tin.  Cover with the rolled out marzipan.  Cover with the remaining batter, smoothing the top over.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour and 40  minutes until the cake is well risen and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely in the tin before removing.  Remove and discard the paper.

On the day you want to serve the cake, whisk the ingredients together for the glaze icing.  Drizzle this over top of the cake, and scatter with the candied almonds.  Let set before cutting into slices to serve.

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For a more traditional recipe, and some of the history of the Simnel cake  you can find one on the ASDA recipe pages here.

Marie Rayner
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  1. Beautiful Easter Cake Marie!!
    Happy Easter dear !!

  2. It looks delicious! Happy Easter to you. :)

    1. Thank you Linda, and a Happy Easter right back! xo

  3. Marie, your cake looks wonderful. I love anything "fruit cake"!
    I also noticed your tea cozy. I'd love to know where to get a pattern to make one like it. I live in the US, and don't know how to follow metric...
    Thanks for your great blog, which I read and enjoy every day.
    Hope you had a Happy Easter!

    1. Hi Loretta, many thanks! It's a great cake. I used the pattern for the tea cosy from this link. I just did it in stripes: http://www.castoncastoff.co.uk/blog/2006/04/10/time-for-tea/


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