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).
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!
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.
- 150g/5oz ground almonds
- 200g/7oz icing sugar + extra for rolling
- 2tsp almond extract
- 1 egg white
- 115g/4oz butter, softened
- 115g/4oz caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 125g/4½oz self-raising flour
- 300g/10½oz mixed dried fruit ( any of currants, raisins, sultanas, mixed peel, glacé cherries)
- 1tsp mixed spice (I didn't have any, so I made my own mixture)
- 4tbsp apricot jam (I used some home-made plum jam)
- cocoa powder, for dusting
- 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
- 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
- Any unused marzipan will keep for a month in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer
- Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas mark 2. Line the base and sides of each tin with baking parchment
- Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy
- Add one of the eggs and combine until well mixed. Add the other egg with 1 tbsp of flour and mix again
- Stir in the rest of the four and all of the dried fruit
- 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
- 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
- Bake for an hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes away clean
- Allow the cakes to cool in their for 15 minutes before remove them to cool completely on a wire rack
- Trim the top of each cake with a sharp knife to make them flat
- Heat the jam and brush on the top of each cakes before cover each with the remaining marzipan rounds
- 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
- Lightly sprinkle with cocoa powder
Are cupcakes still all the rage? I never really got that into them, perhaps because I’m terrible at decorating them. The icing has to be perfect for me to really enjoy them. Crunchy icing puts my teeth on edge. It needs to be a sweet, flavoursome butter cream or cream cheese.
These jam-filled pound cupcakes don’t need any topping because the interest is all in the middle. I used some of my home-made mixed berry jelly from last autumn – there are always a few jars in the store cupboard. You can use any fruit jam, marmalade or lemon curd instead. Or what about a spoonful of Nutella? Mmmmmmmm…
I used a pound cake recipe I found in Marvellous Mini-Cakes – a little book full of teensy sweet & savoury cakes. I used to think a pound cake was a cake that weighed a pound! In actual fact, it’s a cake traditionally made with a pound each of its four main ingredients – butter, sugar, flour and eggs… so I guess it’s really a 4lb cake!
As tempting as they may be, please don’t attempt to eat these straight from the oven. The hot, molten jam will scald the roof of your mouth!
- 120g/4¼oz salted butter
- 120g/4¼oz caster sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- 120g/4¼oz plain flour, sifted
- 2 scant tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
- Grease a muffin tin and dust with flour or add cupcake/muffin cases
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until the mixture turns pale and becomes smooth
- Add the egg yolks, flour and salt and combine
- In another bowl, whisk the egg whites
- Add them gradually to the mixture
- Add the baking powder
- As soon as you have stirred in the baking powder, put a dessert-spoonful of cake mixture in each cupcake hole/case
- Add a teaspoonful of jam to the centre of each cake
- Cover with the remaining cake mixture, ensuring that the jam is fully covered by the cake mix
- Put in the oven straight away
- Bake for about 20 minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time, prick with a skewer if it comes away clean, the cupcakes are done
- Allow to cool slightly before turning them out of the tin
I saw a photo of Custard Cream cupcakes on Pinterest last week and just had to try them out. I found the recipe on the Jane’s Patisserie blog.
I haven’t made cupcakes in absolute ages, so they made a lovely change this week.
The addition of Bird’s Custard Powder to the batter mix instead of vanilla essence made it taste like a Custard Cream in cupcake form! They’re perfect for an afternoon snack with a tea or coffee – and great for kids’ parties too.
I think I may try a similar thing soon, next time with Chocolate Bourbons or Oreos – they’re just such fun!
Baking Mad kindly sent us a package containing some cake-making bits & bobs to review last week.
I couldn’t decide what kind to make so I opted to do a little pick & mix.
I made up a batch of general cupcake batter and added extra ingredients to make cinnamon & apple, poppy seed & lemon and chocolate & ginger. Here’s my recipe..
My icing skills aren’t the best – I’ve got shaky hands! Using the icing tube was a doddle – and there’s no wastage – I just screwed the cap back on and popped the tube in the fridge for next time.
All the cupcakes were delicious, perfect as little tidbits to have with an afternoon coffee!
We’re hosting a giveaway of the 4 items we didn’t use – only open to UK-based folks we’re afraid! 🙁 – you can enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
It’s National Cupcake Week this week so I may just have to oblige and make a batch.
Justin’s very particular about his ‘buns’ (as he refers to them). He likes his cupcakes without the tooth-aching icing on top. To me, that makes it just a muffin! What do you think? What’s the difference between a cupcake, bun and a muffin? Are you a fan of the current cupcake fad sweeping the world?
We spent a very pleasant, sunny Sunday afternoon in Hebden Bridge today…
…including a visit to Snug Gallery on Market Street.
We were invited to their “Cupcakes & Cordial” open day.
It was a chance to say hello to owner, Ed Chadwick…
…and have a mooch around their recently-opened gallery shop.
The gallery features photographs by Ed himself…
…and some lovely, hand-crafted objects by a variety of artists & designer makers.
As well as the delicious cupcakes, there were lots of other tempting things on offer!!
We left with a couple of small purchases – a hanging porcelain bird by Rebecca Callis – a perfect present for someone special…
…and a bit of self-indulgence in the form of a very cute strawberry brooch by &made.
Hebden Bridge is famous for its wealth of interesting independent shops & galleries…
…and this gallery is a very welcome addition.
Here’s wishing Snug a bright future!