Simnel cake is traditionally eaten on Easter Sunday. In years gone by, it was made by servant girls before Lent started and given to their mothers when they returned home to visit on Mother’s Day.
The traditional Simnel cake is topped with a layer of marzipan and 11 marzipan balls to represent the 11 disciples who were loyal to Jesus. In addition, some people place a large marzipan ball in the middle of the cake to represent Jesus.
Contrary to tradition, I prefer to add a modern twist to my Easter cake. Last year I kept it simple with a topping of mini Kinder eggs and Ferrero Rocher. The year before, I went for the gooey Creme Egg – I think doggo wanted a bite!
Using strong white flour will help to achieve a flat top which is desirable when decorating. That said, I used plain flour and the result was equally as good to work with.
Hope you enjoy!
200g caster sugar
Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
260g plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
150g glace cherries, halved
Marmalade, marzipan, icing and extras to decorate (optional)
Prepare an 8inch/20cm round cake tin by lining the base and the sides with greaseproof paper. Tie a double band of brown paper or newspaper around the outside of the tin. Preheat the oven to 160C.
Cream the margarine, sugar and zest until light and fluffy. One-by-one, beat in the eggs and 4 tbsp brandy, if using. Gradually sieve and fold in the flour, mixed spice and fruit.
Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin.
Take one-third of the marzipan and roll it out to a circle the size of the tin and then place on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.
Bake for approximately two hours until the cake is firm to touch, or, when pierced with a skewer, it comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and pierce all over the top with a skewer. Drizzle over 2 tbsp brandy. Allow to cool completely in the tin before wrapping in a greaseproof paper, followed by tin foil. Every 2-3 weeks, drizzle with another 1-2 tbsp brandy up until two weeks prior to decorating.
If decorating, brush the cake with a layer of “no-bits” marmalade and drape over the remaining marzipan. Brush the marzipan with a layer of water and drape over the icing. Decorate as you wish.