Simnel Cake - a British Easter tradition. A light fruitcake with a layer of marzipan baked into the centre, then topped with a traditional marzipan decoration.
Author: Barry C. Parsons
Recipe type: Cake/Dessert
Serves: serves 16 or more
For homemade marzipan
2 cups finely ground blanched almonds
2⅔ cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)
½ cup corn syrup
3 tsp pure almond extract
For the fruitcake
1 cup chopped glace cherries (cut in quarters)
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup currents
¾ cup candied citrus peel
1½ cups sultana raisins
1¼ cups butter
1¼ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 large or extra large eggs
zest of one medium orange, finely grated
zest of one large lemon, finely grated
2 cups all purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
You will also need
A few tablespoons of apricot jam
To prepare the marzipan
Note: You can use store bought marzipan. You'll need about 1½ pounds.
In a food processor blend together the almonds and icing sugar.
Stir together the corn syrup and almond extract.
With the food processor turned on, slowly add the corn syrup mixture in a slow stream throughout he feeder a the top of the machine. When all of the mixture has been added the marzipan should hold together with the consistency of firm play dough. If it is a little too dry add corn syrup a tablespoon at a time until the proper consistency is reached. Separate the marzipan into three equal portions and wrap each one in plastic wrap until ready to use. No need to refrigerate.
To prepare the fruitcake.
Dust a cutting board with icing sugar and using the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan as a guide, roll one portion of the marzipan, (about 8 -10 ounces) into a 9 inch circle. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to add to the middle of the cake as instructed later in the recipe.
Grease a 9 inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Chop the cherries and apricots and measure the other dried fruits so they will all be ready to add at the end.
Cream the butter and brown sugar well. Add the vanilla extract.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Fold in the grated orange and lemon zest.
Sift together the flour and baking powder and fold into the creamed mixture.
Add all of the dried fruits and fold them in well.
Spread half of the cake batter evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Take the rolled circle of marzipan and lay it on top of the batter then add the second half of the batter and spread it evenly over the marzipan.
Bake the cake in the preheated 300 degree F oven for about 2 hours or until wooden toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
When the cake has completely cooled, turn it upside down on a serving plate and brush the top with apricot jam. This will help to anchor the marzipan topping.
Roll another portion of marzipan into a 9 inch circle and lay on top of the cake. Flute the edges with your thumb and forefinger. You can also just use the handle of a wooden spoon to make indentations all the way around the cake.
Divide the remaining marzipan into 11 equal portions and roll them into small balls. Place the balls equally apart around the edge of the cake.
At this point you can leave the top as is or torch it to brown it. I use a butane kitchen torch like the one you'd use for creme brûlée. It takes a light touch wight he torch. Don't get too close or the sugar in the marzipan will burn easily.
(Alternatively, you can place the cake under the broiler until the tops of the marzipan balls begin to get golden brown. Watch this continuously and don't walk away or else you risk burning the marzipan.)