(photo from Delia.com)
One Easter Tradition over here is the Simnel Cake, a light fruit cake, similar to a Christmas cake, covered in marzipan, then toasted, and eaten during the Easter period. There is usually a layer of marzipan baked in the centre as well, and more often, although not necessary, 11 balls of marzipan placed on the top of the cake to represent the 11 disciples of Christ, Judas being noteably absent! The marzipan is then toasted until it browns slightly. If you like fruit cake and marzipan, then Simnel Cake is for you!
It's not always been an Easter cake however, having started back in Medieval times, and in recent years was traditionally baked for Mothering Sunday . . . but with the onset of Lent and what-not the baking of these fruited cakes has now pretty much moved to Easter.
I happen to love both fruit cakes and marzipan so I love Simnel Cake. Todd's not overly fond though. He finds it very rich. I found this recipe in a BBC little book called 101 Cakes & Bakes and decided to give them a try. I've actually had it earmarked for several years now.
They turned out lovely!! The cake itself is nice and light, not too heavy, and beautiful spiced just right. We loved the little treasure of a nugget of marzipan in the centre . . . the drizzle icing delicately flavoured with orange sets them off perfectly, and of course . . . the chocolaholic in me just adores the little Easter Eggs on top.
I dare say that there will be none left by Easter and I'll just have to bake some more. So much easier than baking a fruit cake I'd say . . . it's a one bowl batter recipe. You know the kind . . . you just throw everything into one bowl and beat til fluffy! Easy peasy, lemon squeasy! My kind of cake!
I think you might even be able to get kids interested in this tasty muffins!! This big kid loves them at any rate!!
Like the cake except that they are smaller. Light and fruity with a surprising nugget of marzipan baked in the centre of each.
For the cakes:
250g of mixed dried fruit (1 2/3 cup)
the grated zest and juice of one medium orange
175g unsalted butter, softened (3/4 cup)
175g golden caster sugar (14 1/2 TBS)
3 large free range eggs, beaten
300g of self raising flour (2 1/2 cup)
1 tsp mixed spice (see recipe in side bar on right hand side)
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
5 TBS milk
175g of marzipan (a scant half pound)
For the decoration:
200g icing sugar, sifted (1 3/4 cup)
2 TBS orange juice for mixing
sugar eggs or mini eggs
Measure the fruit into a bowl. Stir in the orange zest and juice. Microwave for one minute. Let stand until cool.
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Line a 12 cup medium muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
Measure all the cake ingredients into a large bowl. Beat together until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the fruit, mixing it in well.
Fill the muffin tins halfway with the batter. Pinch off 12 equal pieces of Marzipan. Roll each into a ball and then flatten them slightly. Place these discs over the muffin batter in the pans. Top with the remaining batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown, well risen and firm to the touch, Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Whisk together the icing sugar and orange juice to make a smooth icing which is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Drizzle over top of the muffins and top each with a few eggs to decorate. Allow to set before serving.