Cakes & Bakes: Simnel cupcakes

Home-made Simnel cupcakes | H is for Home

Each Easter I like to make a dish that’s traditional for the celebration. Last year, I made a hot cross loaf; the year before that, a crescia and this year I’ve made simnel cupcakes.

Circles of home-made marzipan and tins with simnel cupcake mixture | H is for Home

A simnel cake is a fruit cake with a middle layer of marzipan and another layer on the top. Since Victorian times, the cake has been decorated with 11 or 12 little balls of marzipan. It was traditionally eaten on the middle Sunday of Lent – the 12 balls representing Christ and his 11 apostles (minus the 12th, Judas).

Simnel cupcakes baked in food tins | H is for Home Tops sliced off of simnel cupcakes | H is for Home

I have a confession to make, I’d never actually eaten a simnel cake until I made these. What have I been waiting for? They’re easy to make from scratch and are delicious! The idea of cooking them in used food tins is ingenious. A word of caution, however, try not to use ring-pull tins. They have a lip at the top that makes it difficult to ease the cake out after baking. I had to open the other end of the tin to get them out!

Home-made simnel cupcakes | H is for Home

Even though I used small tins (150g Morrison’s own brand sweetcorn… around the size of small Heinz baked beans ones), we shared half a cake each.

Click here or on the image below to pin the recipe for later!

Home-made simnel cupcakes recipe | H is for Home

Simnel cupcakes
Yields 4
For the marzipan
  1. 150g/5oz ground almonds
  2. 200g/7oz icing sugar + extra for rolling
  3. 2tsp almond extract
  4. 1 egg white
For the cake mixture
  1. 115g/4oz butter, softened
  2. 115g/4oz caster sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 125g/4½oz self-raising flour
  5. 300g/10½oz mixed dried fruit ( any of currants, raisins, sultanas, mixed peel, glacé cherries)
  6. 1tsp mixed spice (I didn't have any, so I made my own mixture)
  7. 4tbsp apricot jam (I used some home-made plum jam)
  8. cocoa powder, for dustingHome-made simnel cupcakes ingredients
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For the marzipan
  1. Put the ground almonds, icing sugar, almond extract and egg white into a food processor and combine until a thick ball of dough is formed
  2. Turn the paste out onto a work surface and knead it a few times. Roll it into a log and wrap in cling film until the cake mixture has been made
  3. Any unused marzipan will keep for a month in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer
For the cake
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas mark 2. Line the base and sides of each tin with baking parchment
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy
  3. Add one of the eggs and combine until well mixed. Add the other egg with 1 tbsp of flour and mix again
  4. Stir in the rest of the four and all of the dried fruit
  5. Liberally sprinkle some icing sugar on a work surface and roll out the marzipan. Cut out 8 circles about ½cm thick and the same diameter as the tins
  6. Divide half the cake mixture between the tins and level the tops. Put a marzipan rounds on top of each and cover with the rest of the cake mixture
  7. Bake for an hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes away clean
  8. Allow the cakes to cool in their for 15 minutes before remove them to cool completely on a wire rack
  9. Trim the top of each cake with a sharp knife to make them flat
  10. Heat the jam and brush on the top of each cakes before cover each with the remaining marzipan rounds
  11. Make 36 mini balls with the remaining marzipan. Put 9 balls around the edge of each cake, using a little brush of jam to stick them in place
  12. Lightly sprinkle with cocoa powder
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