Simnel Cakes go way back, all the way to medival times in fact. I've never actually eaten a traditional one before, which just have one layer of fruit cake, but I see them in the shops every Easter. The marzipan balls on top represent the twele apostles, minus Judas. Although I'm not religious myself, I love Easter and baking around this time of year. I wanted to make the Simnel cake a bit more modern and also more to my own tastes, so it's filled with delicious almond buttercream and the sponge is much lighter with less fruit.
I started by creaming together 350g butter and 350g golden caster sugar.
I whisked in 6 eggs, adding two at a time and mixing well.
I folded in 2 tsp mixed spice, a pinch of salt and 350g self raising flour. Then I gently mixed in the zest of 1 lemon and 250g dried fruit mixture.
I baked on 160C for 25 minutes until golden brown. I tipped the sponges out of the tins and left to cool.
When the sponges were fully cool I made some buttercream by mixing 400g icing sugar, 200g butter and 1 tsp almond extract together. I piped it around the edge of the first layer and smeared it in the middle.
I placed the second layer on top and did the same with the remaining buttercream.
I added the final sponge layer and brushed some apricot jam over the top to help the marzipan stick.
I used 320g natural marzipan for the decoration. Each ball was 15g each and the rest I rolled out into a disc.
I placed it on top of the cake and trimmed the edges. I then brushed it all over with egg white, placed the balls around the cake and brushed them with egg white too.
I then used my handy cook's blowtorch to scorch the marzipan in the centre and on top of each ball. If you don't have a blowtorch you can put the cake under the grill to achieve this effect, however I would recommend decorating the top sponge on it's own and grilling it before placing it over the buttercream, which would probably melt under a grill!
I loved the final effect of the cake, a gorgeous golden delight! My boyfriend's eyes lit up with excitement when he saw it as he loves marzipan. He quickly ate up the first slice and was full of compliments for the flavour.
The sponge was lovely and light with just enough fruit for me and the sweet almond buttercream was the perfect accompaniment. It was a large cake and was cut into about 18 slices - plenty for a hungry group of family and friends at Easter!
Golden Layered Simnel Cake
- 550g Butter
- 350g Golden caster sugar
- 6 Eggs
- 350g Self raising flour
- 250g Dried fruit
- 2 tsp Mixed spice
- 1 Lemon
- 400g Icing sugar
- 1 tsp Almond extract
- 320g Natural marzipan
- A pinch of Salt
- 2 tbsp Apricot jam
- 1 Egg white
Cream together 350g of the butter and the golden caster sugarWhisk in the eggs, add two at a time and mix wellFold in the mixed spice, salt and self raising flour. Then gently mix in the zest of the lemon and the dried fruitDivide the mixture between 3 lined cake tinsBake on 160C for 25 minutes until golden brown. Tip the sponges out of the tins and leave to coolTo make the buttercream by mix the icing sugar with 200g of the butter and the almond extract. Pipe it around the edge of the first layer and smear it in the middle Place the second layer of cake on top and do the same with the remaining buttercreamAdd the final sponge layer and brush the apricot jam over the top to help the marzipan stickRoll up 11 marzipan balls weighing 15g each and roll the rest out into a discPlace it on top of the cake and trim the edges. Then brush it all over with egg white, place the balls around the cake and brush them with egg white tooUse a cook's blowtorch to scorch the marzipan in the centre and on top of each ball