Simnel cake with Richie Wilson

Simnel cake is a traditional rich fruit cake served after Lent. The cake is decorated with 11 marzipan balls representing the 12 apostles minus Judas, who betrayed Christ.

Ingredients


  • for the fruit cake:
  • 4 egg
  • 175 g plain flour
  • 175 g unsalted butter
  • 175 g soft brown sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 5 g mixed spice
  • 350 g mixed fruit
  • lemon zested
  • 50 g apricot jam
  • for the marzipan:
  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 250 g ground almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • almond essence

Method

  1. Marzipan:
  2. As you are going to need the marzipan in the middle of your cake it is best to start with this and leave it to set in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the cake.
  3. Begin by putting the sugar and the ground almonds into a large mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs together with the almond essence in a separate bowl. Add the eggs to the almonds and sugar a little at a time, kneading the dough all the while until you have a smooth pliable paste. Cut this into 3 pieces, 1 just a few grams (enough to roll 11 small balls) and the rest into 2 equal size balls. Cover each with cling film and allow to sit in the fridge for an hour or two.
  4. Now remove the Marzipan from the fridge and dust a little flour on the work top surface before rolling out each ball of marzipan to the diameter of your cake tin. Place them onto a sheet of grease proof paper on a tray and return to the fridge.
  5. Divide the smaller ball into 11 pieces and roll each one into small balls. These represent the 11 true disciples, Judas not being counted as a true disciple.
  6. For the cake:
  7. Begin by lining and greasing a 7 inch cake tin.
  8. In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until it has become pale in colour. Now add just one tblsp of flour to the mix before adding one egg at a time while continuing to mix.
  9. Now remove the mixture from the machine and place in a large mixing bowl. Sift in the flour, salt and mixed spice. Fold the mix until all the flour is mixed through. Now fold in the fruit and zest.
  10. To Bake:
  11. Pour just half of the cake mix into the tin and smooth the top. Now place in one sheet of the pre rolled marzipan. Pour the remainder of the mixture on top of this. Smooth the cake off at the top and create a slight indentation in the centre to allow the cake to rise while baking.
  12. Place in the centre of a pre heated oven at 150°C for 1.5 -1.75 hours. Check the cake after one and a half hours by putting a mettle skewer into the centre. If the skewer comes out clean it is ready if not it will need a few more minutes.
  13. Once cooked remove the cake from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack. When the cake has cooled brush the top with the Apricot jam and place the second sheet of marzipan on top of this. Now place the 11 small balls around the edge of the top. Now lightly brush the top of the marzipan with a little beaten egg. Now place the whole cake under a preheated grill, just until the marzipan starts to turn a light golden brown.

Notes:

Richie's tips: Make the marzipan in advance; it will be much easier to work with when it has cooled in the fridge. Be sure to put an indentation into the centre of the cake before baking,( this will give you and even surface to decorate once baked) You can replace the unsalted butter with margarine if you wish. Instead of putting just one layer of marzipan in the centre of the cake before baking try rolling lots of tiny balls and adding them to the mix before putting into the tin. You could use a chefs blow torch to gently glaze the top of the cake (instead of putting the whole cake under the grill) Add a little flour to the butter and sugar mix before adding the eggs. (This will help prevent the cake mix from splitting.)





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