Introduction: How to Bake a Traditional Easter Simnel Cake

Picture of How to Bake a Traditional Easter Simnel Cake

I'm trying to get this recipe up before Easter so EVERYONE can have a go... I usually buy a Simnel every Easter for my family, but this year since i'm not working I decided to make my own.

As with all  ideas I took it to Google and settled on THIS LINK which features a recipe from James Martin, one of my favourite TV Chefs... now, unfortunately I didn't find it fantastically easy to follow so I decided to give it a go, and explain it to you all...

So here is my take on my a traditional Simnel cake

Testament to taste I put it out this morning and there's less than 1/4 left... hehe

Step 1: Ingredients

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        I prefer to do things by rule of thumb, but for those who need to measure EVERYTHING this is for you. I found that the ingredients cost me about £10 to make.

Cake:

  • 175g/6oz light muscavado sugar
  • 175g/6oz butter (I used 'Slightly Salted)
  • 175g/6oz self-raising flour
  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • 25g/1oz ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 110g/4oz sultanas
  • 110g/4oz glacé cherries
  • 110g/4oz dried apricots
  • 110g/4oz stem ginger I used the preserved stuff in a jar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 500g bar of golden marzipan
  • Apricot Jam
  • Icing sugar

Equipment:

  • Weighing Scales
  • Mixing bowl
  • Electric whisk or a big spoon
  • Assorted spoons (well some tea spoons and table spoons)
  • Butter knife
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Tea Towl
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Oven  and Grill... Or a mini Blowtorch
  • 8" baking tin
  • grease proof paper

Step 2: IMPORTANT! No Biological Warfare Please! Scrub Up!

Picture of IMPORTANT! No Biological Warfare Please! Scrub Up!

See this REALLY annoys me, when someone makes something for you to CONSUME and they don't bother to wash their hands before hand... So I have decided to make a point of a few things that TV Chefs or whatnot don't seem to be able to do

# Remove any rings/ Jewellery that may come in contact with the food
# Wash your hands before you cook
# After handling Eggs, its good practice to wash your hands (Stops the spread of Salmonella and such)
# DO NOT Lick or taste off a spoon THEN put it back into the bowl you took the sample from... EWW... If I wanted your germs I would kiss you!

Before I start sounding like a rambling germ freak, I'm sure you'll agree this is all common sense... But some people just don't ...get... that its not hygienic

Step 3: Grease That TIN!

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I used a very good spring loaded 8" baking tin, but if your just using a round tin where the bottom doesn't slide out, remember to line the sides

To make sure your cake doesn't stick, I always put a circle of parchment on the bottom of the tin... Best thing to do is to draw around the bottom of your tin onto the parchment, I then cut it out.

Pop it in the bottom of the tin and PRE HEAT your oven to 160C/320F/Gas Mark 3.

Step 4: Dry Goods

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So, I decided to weigh out and mix up all my dry goods first, I would usually cream the sugar and the butter together first.. but, well.... It didn't seem to make any difference.

So bung all your dry goods into a bowl and give it a good stir

By Dry goods I mean
Sugar, Flour, Ground Almonds, Spices :)

Step 5: MMM Fruity

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Time to measure out all your fruit... Once you have it all measured out chop it up into chunks and put it to one side

Note to self: If you use preserved Stem Ginger don't spill the damn syrup everywhere.... it's very sticky and not good when your mum finds it all over her table...


Step 6: Butter Me Up

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Now not many people know this, but most packs of butter have little marks giving you a rough idea of how much butter you should cut off, I weighed it out so you can see how close the cut was to the butter needed

I then chopped the butter into little chunks. It would have made it a lot easier if the butter i had used was at room temperature...

Pop your butter in with your dry mix, and give it a bit of a mix together

Step 7: Egg and Milk

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Add three eggs and two tablespoons of milk to your mix and bind it all together

Step 8: Fruitify It!

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Add your chopped fruit little by little and mix in with the rest of the mix

Step 9: It's Wishin' Time!

Picture of It's Wishin' Time!

Now like with Christmas cake... Gather your family and friends round and let them have a stir of the mix. Whilst they stir get them to make a wish, and keep it secret...

DO NOT LET THEM TELL YOU WHAT THEY HAVE WISHED FOR OTHERWISE THE WISH WILL NOT COME TRUE

Step 10: Marzipan Is My Friend

Picture of Marzipan Is My Friend

Whilst your family stir and wish, roll out about a half a bar of Marzipan to the size of the cake tin, mine is SLIGHTLY less than 8" in diameter, as I didn't want the marzipan to touch the metal sides (ELSE IT WOULD STICK)

Step 11: Fill That TIN!

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Spoon half of your cake mix into the bottom of your cake tin, and spread it out evenly, ontop of that put the rolled out marzipan from the last step... and then fill the cake tin with the last of your batter

Step 12: Bung It in T'oven

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By now your oven should be up to temperature, put your cake on the middle shelf, shut the door and let it cook.

James Martin said that the cake will take anything from 1 and a half to two hours cooking time. REMEMBER if you have a fan assisted oven like myself this will be alot shorter

If you think the cake is cooking too much on the top, but is still raw in the middle, try turning the oven down abit or by putting a circle of parchment ontop of the cake

Step 13: Is It Cooked Yet?

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Now the smells of cooking and the glorious golden look of the cake mean unless you have X-Ray vision you will need to check that the cake is cooked in the middle

The best way to do this is to firstly give the top of the cake a gentle prod, it should be firm, but still soft.

Then take a knife and put it into the middle of the cake, when you pull the knife out it should come out clean... don't forget that you will probably get a little marzipan on the knife, but that won't transubstantiate into cake ;) providing you don't get any cake batter on the knife the cake is ready to be taken out of the oven.

Step 14: Cool It Daddio

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Now... take the cake out of the oven and set it aside to cool.... If you take it out of the tin and put it on a plate, it will fall apart..

Take it out of the tin when completely cooled... Make sure to run a knife around the edges of the tin to loosen any mix on the sides, If you have a tin like mine where the bottom lifts out... lift out the bottom, peel off the paper and put on a plate

IF your tin is a solid one, loosen the mix from the sides, pop a plate ONTOP of the cake and tin... turn the whole thing over and your cake should HOPEFULLY come out of the tin (give it a gentle tap if not) peel off the paper, place another plate on the bottom of the cake... and then flip the whole thing over

Clear as mud?

Step 15: MORE Marzipan Madness!

Picture of MORE Marzipan Madness!

Now traditionally Simnel cakes have 11 decorations (Traditionally it would be 11 marzipan balls) These symbolise Jesus' apostles, there more astute will know that there where 12 of them... But since this is Easter, we  don't count Judas... so he doesn't get a ball on the cake

You will also need to roll out a round to use as a top to your cake.

Step 16: JAM JAM MARZIPAN

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Now we have Marzipan, and we have cake ... time to add them together

you can't put on the marzipan directly as it wont stick to the cake...

we need glue

we need JAM! Apricot Jam!...

We need to melt this jam either in the microwave (by putting a table spoon full in a mug and popping it in for 30 seconds or so at 800W) Or melt it in a pan

BE CAREFUL, molten jam WILL burn!

Spoon the jam all over the top of the cake, then put on the Marzipan top that you rolled in the last step.

I just like to texture the top of the cake with a fork, but leaving it flat will still be okay. I glue the balls to the top of the cake with with a little more jam

NOW beat an egg in a cup, and brush this mix over the top of the marzipan

Step 17: Grillin'

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Now pop your cake under the grill to lightly brown the top... If you have a blow torch use that instead :D

I like to sprinkle some icing sugar ontop of the egg when grilling to make the egg wash taste a little better.

Step 18: Chow Down!

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So it's been a LONG Instructable... Time to go and wash those pots and pans and put you feet up with a cup of tea and a GREAT BIG slice of cake...

I hope you enjoyed my i'ble ... If you liked it rate it, if you bake it show me

Let me know if I can help in anyway

Cheerio and Happy Easter

Biggsy

Comments

MommasArtMess (author)2011-04-24

Fascinating instructions - I'd never heard of Simnel cake and enjoyed the history lesson when I went hunting for more information.

I also appreciate the caution about washing hands, but I've been around quite a few chefs. Without exception, they were all fanatics about hand washing. You don't see it on TV because it doesn't contribute to the plot, but trust me. All chefs wash and re-wash and re-re wash hands.

Biggsy (author)MommasArtMess2011-04-25

Oh I know... but I know alot of HOME chefs that don't wash their hands and don't remove their jewellery

The thing that REALLY annoys me is when someone tastes their food, then re-uses that spoon in the cooking....

Anyway I'm glad you liked the i'ble :)

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Bio: I'm an un-repentant mess creator... I'll turn my hand to anything and providing i get my fingers back... I'm happy.
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