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 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.
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.
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.
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.
In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add one egg at a time, beating each egg into the mix.
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.
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.
Bake in a cool oven, 150 C, for two and a half to three hours.
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.
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.
Place the whole cake under a medium grill until the tops turn golden brown – there will be a wonderful smell of roasting almonds.
The simnel cake is now complete. Keep it in an airtight tin.