With thanks to Caroline Chilton-Bates @chefcarolina for this recipe!
Simnel Cake is a delicious, rich Easter cake, made with fruit and almond paste. Although marzipan is readily available, homemade almond paste is very quick and easy and tastes so much better. The cake is traditionally decorated with 11 marzipan balls representing the disciples - minus Judas Iscariot. This cake is truly delicious and will keep for up to three weeks in an airtight container.
For the almond paste:
225g Ground almonds
125g Caster sugar
125g Icing sugar
2 egg yolks
Seeds from ½ Vanilla pod
1 tsp Orange Flower water
¼ tsp Almond essence
1 tbsp Lemon juice
For the Simnel cake:
250g Mixed fruit (including raisins, sultanas, candied mixed peel,
1 orange, zest and juice)
500g Marzipan (if not making your own)
200g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs (plus 1 beaten to glaze)
175g Plain flour
100g Ground almonds
1 tsp Baking powder
1 Lemon (zested)
2 tsps Mixed spice
Seeds from ½ Vanilla pod
3 tbsps Apricot jam
1. First make your almond paste – put all your ingredients into a blender (or whisk with a hand whisk until all combined into a rough paste).
2. Turn out and knead until smooth using extra icing sugar to prevent sticking.
3. Place in the fridge whilst preparing your cake.
For the cake:
1. Grease a deep 20cm cake tin (or a 23cm one if you don’t have a deep tin). Line with parchment paper
2. Place the mixed fruit in a pan with the orange zest, juice and 2 tbsp water and bring to the boil. Simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and leave to cool.
3. Heat oven to 150C / 130C fan / gas 2.
4. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
5. Add the eggs one at a time, blending as you do so
6. Add the flour, almonds, baking powder, zest , vanilla seeds and mixed spice. Stir in until all combined. Add the cooled fruit and stir in.
7. Remove your almond paste from the fridge, cut into thirds, roll out two thirds into two separate circles –using your cake tin as a template. Roll eleven evenly sized balls for your “disciples”.
8. Place ½ the cake mixture in your tin and then carefully place one of your almond paste circles on top. Put the remaining mixture on the top smooth it across the top.
9. Bake in the oven for two hours. Check it’s cooked by inserting a skewer into the middle and see if it comes out clean. Once cooked, cool it in the tin for 15 mins and then transfer to a wire rack and allow it to cool completely.
10. Once cool, paint the top with the apricot jam and place the remaining almond paste circle on top, pressing it down slightly to make it stick. Crimp the edges if desired.
11. Paint the top of the cake with the remaining beaten egg and evenly space the eleven balls on top. Paint those with beaten egg too.
12. Either place the cake under a hot grill for several minutes until the top caramelizes. Alternatively use a kitchen blow torch.
Decorate as you wish - enjoy!
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The beauty of making a paella - NO STIRRING! Get it on and go and do something else, the results are stunning. There are so many variations of this Catalan classic and (just like a risotto) there are so many different ingredients that you can use. When by the coast, fish and shellfish rule, the further inland, chicken, rabbit, sausage are the key. To make a good paella, there are a few things that you need to get right, the rest will take care of itself.
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