New Recipe: Eunice Power’s Simnel cake

Simnel cake topped with almond paste than can be toasted or left as is.

Simnel cake topped with almond paste than can be toasted or left as is.

  • Makes: 1
  • Cooking Time: 150 mins
  • Course: Dessert
  • Cuisine: British

Ingredients

  • 650g mixed fruit, to include sultanas, raisins, currants, a handful of mixed peel and some cherries
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 60mls of sherry
  • 20mls of orange flower water (available from supermarkets or health food shops)
  • 250g butter, at room temperature
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • Tiny drop of almond essence, about ¼tsp
  • 350g plain flour
  • A pinch of mixed spice
  • ½tsp of baking powder
  • Almond paste:
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 300g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp sherry
  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk (reserve the white)
  • A tiny drop of almond essence, about ¼tsp

Method

You will need a 23cm (9in) cake tin.

1 Soak the fruit with the lemon rind, sherry and orange flower water for an hour or so, allowing the fruit to soften and the flavours to macerate. The addition of the orange flower water, with its citrus floral aroma, contributes a gentle, fresh flavour.

2 Next, make the almond paste by mixing the sugars and ground almonds together in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and remaining ingredients. Add this to the dry mixture and mix until a smooth paste is formed.

3 Line the base and sides of the baking tin with baking parchment.

4 Sieve together the flour, mixed spice and baking powder.

5 Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then add the eggs, one at a time, alternating with the flour until it is all incorporated. Carefully fold in the fruit.

6 Put half of the mixture into the pre-prepared tin. Roll a little over a third of the almond paste into a round shape, a little smaller than the cake tin diameter, and place it on top of the cake mixture in the tin. Top with the rest of the cake mixture.

7 Bake in a pre-heated oven at 135 degrees/gas 1, for two and a half hours. Check with a skewer to see if is cooked; it may need an extra 30 minutes or so.

8 Allow the cake to cool in the tin and then transfer it to a wire tray.

9 Lightly brush the top of the cake with the reserved egg white. Make 11 little balls with the marzipan (bigger than marbles and smaller than walnuts). Roll out the remaining almond paste into a circle the same size as the cake and place it on top of the cake. Crimp the edges. Fix the marzipan balls to the top of the cake using a little egg white.

10 Brush the top of the cake with a little beaten egg and place it under a hot grill for one to two minutes until it is lightly toasted. Your cake is now ready to serve or can be stored.



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