Easter cannot pass without some form of cake being made. This year I have gone traditional with a Simnel Cake but this one has a slight twist to it as it is baked in a loaf tin. I seem to find loaf cakes a lot less scary to make and usually take less time to bake. All the main elements of a Simnel Cake are here – a fruit cake with a marzipan layer in the middle topped with another layer of marzipan plus 11 marzipan balls to represent the faithful Disciples. The little balls round the side came about as the marzipan looked a little rough when I cut it to shape. I have decided to call them 'followers'.
Equipment: 2lb (900g) loaf tin lined with two layers, large bowl, electric whisk/beaters, rolling pin, wire rack, pastry brush, baking tray.
6oz (170g) Unsalted butter softened or baking spread
6oz (170g) Caster sugar
3oz (85g) Glacé cherries, quartered, washed and dried
3 Large eggs
½ tsp (2.5ml) Lemon extract
6oz (170g) Self raising flour
1 tsp (5ml) Mixed spice
12oz (340g) Mixed dried fruit
Icing sugar for rolling out
454g Pack golden marzipan
2 tbsp (30ml) Apricot jam
For the topping – 1 egg beaten
1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C/Gas mark 2.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
3. Stir in the cherries, eggs, lemon extract, flour, mixed spice and dried fruit until well combined.
4. Put half of the mixture into the lined loaf tin and level the top.
5. Cut the marzipan into three equal pieces. Wrap two of the pieces in cling film to use later. Dust a smooth, level surface with icing sugar and roll out a piece of marzipan to the size of the loaf tin. Place on top of the cake mixture and then top with the remainder of the mixture.
6. Level the top of the cake mixture and then bake for 2 hours until a skewer comes out clean (it may have signs of the melted marzipan layer but that is fine).
7. Remove the paper liners and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
8. Once cool roll out another piece of the marzipan to go on top of the cake.
9. Heat the apricot jam either in a small saucepan or in a ramekin in the microwave for 30 seconds.
10. Brush the top of the cake with some of the apricot jam and then place the marzipan piece on top. Cut off any overhanging pieces.
11. With the remaining piece of marzipan cut it into 11 equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Dip the bottom of each ball into the apricot jam and stick onto the cake.
12. If you have any marzipan leftover decorate the edges as you like.
13. Brush the tops of the marzipan balls and the gaps inbetween the balls with the beaten egg.
14. Place the cake onto a baking tray and grill until the tops of the balls just start to bubble and colour. Keep your eye on the cake at all times as the marzipan burns very quickly!
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