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

Fresh lemon buns

I’ve recently been baking these lemon buns which are so tangy and refreshing. My 95 year-old father has been making them as well and the grandchildren have been eating them all!

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz butter
  • 4 oz caster sugar
  • 4 oz self-raising flour
  • Juice and zest of lemon
  • 2 oz caster sugar for topping

Switch on oven to 180 C

You can either use the weights above or weigh two (or three) eggs, in their shells, and use their equivalent weight in butter, sugar and flour.

Put paper bun cases into muffin or cake tins. I prefer muffin tins as this gives a higher bun. The two-egg recipe makes approximately 12 buns.

bun cases

Weigh the flour and add the zest of the lemon to it. Leave to one side.

lemon zest

Weigh the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and cream them together until light and fluffy.

Cream butter and sugar

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each egg.

Add eggs one at a time

Add the flour and lemon zest beating well again. Some recipes say to fold in the flour but I find beating it in produces a finer cake.

Mix in flour

Put a large teaspoon of the mix into each bun case. Divide any remaining mix between the buns.

Cake mix in bun cases

Put the tray of buns into the oven for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch.

While the buns are cooking, weigh out 2 oz caster sugar and add the juice from the lemon to it. Stir well until the mix becomes syrupy.

Make lemon syrup

When the buns are cooked, remove from the oven and place on a rack. Either using a teaspoon or a brush put all the lemon syrup over the tops of the buns while they are still warm. Some of the syrup might run over the edge but don’t worry.

Cooked lemon buns

The lemon syrup gives an extra tang to the buns and makes them moist.

Enjoy!

lemon bun in case