Happy Easter!  I hope you’re celebrating with far too much chocolate and the triumphant breaking of your lenten fasts.  I gave up TV for lent this year, it went quite well but I’m disappointed now that so much of the TV I missed while away was so rubbish – Titanic being a good example of overhyped TV ‘events’.

I decided to make Simnel cake this year even though we never usually have it, because I thought it would be a good challenge.  When I looked at the recipes, it seemed fairly straightforward, so I added another level of difficulty – home made marzipan.  It turned out pretty well, mostly because I discovered the Caked Crusader’s blog which had excellent recipes and explanations.

Light fruit cake (Caked Crusader’s)

340g mixed dried fruit
100g Demerara sugar
150ml black tea
110g unsalted butter
170g self raising flour
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten

Put the fruit, sugar, butter and tea in a pot and simmer until the sugar is dissolved.  Leave to cool.  Preheat the oven to gas 3.  Mix the flour and spices together, then add the eggs and the cooled fruit mixture.  Spoon into a 20 cm tin (preferably lined, because I couldn’t be bothered and ended up with a stuck cake).  Sprinkle some more sugar over the top, and bake for 25 minutes then turn down to gas 2, baking for about 30 minutes more.

Marzipan (Caked Crusader’s)

230g ground almonds
115g icing sugar
115g caster sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 eggs, separated

Mix the sugars and almonds together, then add the egg yolks and almond extract.  Then gradually add the whites until you get a stiff dough – you may not need all the egg white.

It’s quite difficult to roll out, but with plenty of icing sugar and a bit of cheeky patching you should be ok.  When you’ve ‘iced’ the cake, with 11 balls for 11 apostles (or with chocolate eggs, whichever you prefer!), put it until the grill for a few minutes to brown the marzipan a little.

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