recipe

Simnel cake for Easter (or anytime)

Simnel cake is one of my all-time favourite cakes as it combines a rich fruit cake with almond paste. I make it for Easter but it is good any time of the year. Once cooked and decorated it will keep for several days in an airtight tin – unless it gets eaten straightaway 😉

ingredients

Ingredients for almond paste

  • 10 oz ground almonds
  • 5 oz icing sugar
  • 5 oz caster sugar
  • 1 egg

Ingredients for cake

  • 6 oz butter
  • 6 oz caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 oz plain flour
  • 15 oz mixed dried fruit
  • 4 oz glace cherries, quartered
  • 1/2 level teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 level teaspoon nutmeg

Switch on oven to 150 C

Grease and line a 7 ½ inch cake tin with greaseproof paper.

lined cake tin

Make the almond paste.

Put the dry ingredients for the almond paste into a bowl. Mix together, removing any lumps in the sugar. Lightly beat the egg and add to the dry mix.

making almond paste

Knead together to make a solid paste. It may appear dry at first but as you work it, the oil from the almonds will make it pliable. Divide in half. Put one half in foil in the fridge until needed later. With the other half make a disc slightly smaller than the cake tin and put to one side.

almond paste

Now for the cake. In a bowl put the flour, dried fruit and cherries. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg. I use whole nutmegs and have an amazing tiny grater to grate them with. Mix together so that all the dried fruit is separated and covered in flour.

dry ingredients

In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add one egg at a time, beating each egg into the mix.

cream butter, sugar and egg

Fold in the dried ingredients combining them until there are no signs of flour on the fruit. If the mixture does not drop easily from the spoon add a small amount of milk.

mix in dry ingredients

Put half the mix into the prepared cake tin, smoothing it and bringing it slightly up the edges. Place the rolled out almond paste on top, then spoon the rest of the mix on top. Smooth the top making a dip in the centre.

put mix in tin

Bake in a cool oven, 150 C, for two and a half to three hours.

cooked simnel

Cool in the tin on a wire rack.

When the cake is completely cool, remove from the tin and take off the paper that lined the tin.

Take the rest of the almond paste and divide into half. Roll one half into a circle slightly smaller than the simnel cake.

add almond paste on top

Brush the top of the cake with egg white or melted jam, then place the circle of almond paste on top.

With the other half of the almond paste make eleven balls. Using egg white to stick them, place them around the edge of the circle of almond paste. Paint egg white over the tops of the balls and on the almond paste circle. 

simnel cake ready to toast

Place the whole cake under a medium grill until the tops turn golden brown – there will be a wonderful smell of roasting almonds.

simnel cake

The simnel cake is now complete. Keep it in an airtight tin.

Enjoy!

recipe

Nutty burgers

We call these almond rissoles, nutty burgers. They are a very tasty vegetarian dish. The quantities below will make enough for four. I usually make a batch and give half to my daughter – we then have two meals each. The cooked burgers keep for several days in the fridge and can be eaten either hot or cold.

eggs, onion, parsley and breadcrumbs

Ingredients

  • 6 oz fresh breadcrumbs
  • 8 oz ground almonds
  • small onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1 oz butter

Coating

  • 1 egg
  • 2 oz fresh breadcrumbs

Frying

  • vegetable or sunflower oil
  • butter

Mix the breadcrumbs and ground almonds together in a mixing bowl. The original recipe only had half the amount of ground almonds, but I find these better using more almonds.

Grate the onion into the bread and almond mix. I use the smaller part of a metal grater and find that I don’t get watery eyes.

grate onion

Chop the parsley finely. I prefer curly leaf parsley rather than the flat leaf variety.

chopped curly leaf parsley

Add the onion and parsley into the breadcrumb and almond mix.

Melt the butter and add to the mix along with a beaten egg.

melted butter, beaten egg

Mix all together, then using your hands form this into a dough like consistency.

nutty burger mix

I usually make 16 small burgers, but you can make 8 larger ones if you prefer.

The easiest way to make 16 is to divide the dough in half, then each half in half again. You now have four. Divide each of these into half and half again. Shape each of the burgers in the palm of your hand and lay out.

nutty burgers

Break the egg for the coating into a bowl, add a splash of water to make it go further, and beat together. Coat each burger by dipping it into the beaten egg and then covering it with breadcrumbs.

coated nutty burgers

Heat a frying pan with oil and butter. Add the covered burgers. My pan holds eight at a time. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, then turn the burgers when they are golden brown and cook the other side. Drain on kitchen paper.

frying nutty burgers

They can be eaten either hot or cold. I had my nutty burgers warm, with steamed vegetables. They were delicious.

Enjoy!