A few years ago I made an alternative Simnel Cake that wasn’t really traditional apart from the inclusion of dried fruit and marzipan. This year after making baked bean tin Christmas Cake I decided to use the same method to make two mini Simnel Cakes.
Some myths state that traditionally Simnel Cakes were made on Mothering Sunday and if the cake was still moist by Easter Sunday it would be a sign that you would make a good wife. The cake is similar to a Christmas cake but has less spice and alcohol and it decorated in a more modest manner. The 11 balls of marzipan represent the 11 true deciples and of course omitting Judas.
Rather than baking these in baked bean tins, I use two similar sized chefs rings sent to me by Mermaid Bakeware to trial. They worked perfectly and are slightly easier to line than baked bean tins. I also used Dr Oetker’s fabulous cake release spray to help stick the baking parchment to the tin.
12 mini (small baked bean tin) cakes (also makes 8 inch (20 cm) round cake or a 7 in (18 cm) square one just bake for 3.5-4 hours instead)
200g glace cherries
500g mixed dried fruit
zest of one orange
200ml orange juice
225g butter, softened
225g dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
225g plain flour
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp mixed spice
50g flaked almonds
Marzipan (approx 50g per mini cake)
1) Put cherries and other dried fruits plus zest in bowl and soak in orange juice overnight.
2) Line a tall cake tin: Lightly grease base and sides. Line sides with a double thickness of baking parchment that stands 5cm above tin. Make 1 cm cuts at base to help it lie flat. Line base with double layer of parchment. Look here for more detailed instructions.
3) Preheat oven to 150°c. Whisk butter and sugar for 5 min till light and fluffy. Whisk in eggs slowly. When almost added, whisk in some flour to stop it curdling. Fold in flour, spice, almond extract, fruit and almonds. Spoon half of the mixture into lined tin(s)
4) Take 25g of the marzipan (for each cake) roll into a disk and place on top of the cake mixture. Cover with the remaining cake mix. Make a small dip in the middle of the mixture. Wrap tin in a double thickness of brown paper (or parchment) and tie with piece of string. Cook for 60-90 minutes (3.5-4 hours for larger cake). If you want the top of the cake to brown a bit more untie the string, so the top of paper is open, for the last quarter an hour.
5) Leave to cool in tin. Then remove from tin, remove paper. Roll out 20g of the marzipan into a disk. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam then place the marzipan disk on top. Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 balls and stick in a circle, using water, on top of the cake.
6) Using a blow torch or a grill lightly brown the marzipan.