Sunday, 18 March 2012

Little Simnel cakes - recipe - giveaway

Here's a confession, NO not one of those type of confessions(!), I have never made simnel cake before until now, this is my first time! Simnel cakes are traditionally made at Easter, and have been made since medieval times, its a fruit based, sweet spiced round cake (usually) containing marzipan in the middle and is traditionally decorated on the top with more marzipan and rolled balls of marzipan; to finish off the top is usually toasted. The inside of the cake is a much lighter than a Christmas cake in appearance and texture.

This version is a tray bake simnel cake and to make this I followed a recipe from the Easter baking section on the Baking Mad website, click here to see the original recipe. I amended this slightly as I didn't have all the ingredients to hand when I made this cake. I used raisins, dried cranberries and cherries for the dried fruit and ordinary self raising flour not wholemeal flour. This tray bake version worked really well and produced a delicious light cake, I gave some cakes to my mum (who loves simnel cake) on Mothering Sunday.

It has also been a Mothering Sunday tradition in days gone by that young girls 'in service' would bake a simnel cake to take home to their mothers and they were allowed to go home to visit mother on that day.

This recipe is the easiest thing ever to do, it takes no time at all. This is how simple it is.
Ingredients: (cake)

Method: (cake)
1. Mix the flour and spices and sugar together in a bowl. Add the dried fruits and mix again.
3. Beat the eggs and mix with the milk, pour this into the dried mix followed by the melted butter, mix with a spoon.
4. Pour into a greased/lined oblong tin and bake at 180 degrees C for 30 minutes.

Here is the baked cake just out of the oven (check out the oven gloves :-)):
This cake is very moist and its best to make it the day before you cut/decorate it as it helps with the cutting of the cake. Mind you, if you wanted to you could just decorate the whole thing?

5. When the cake is rested and cold, cut the cake however you like, I experimented and made some round shapes with a cutter and also some squares and oblongs just by cutting with a knife.
To decorate the cakes you need marzipan, half of one block will do and some apricot jam.

6. Soften the marzipan, like dough in your hands, then roll out the marzipan (use icing sugar if its sticks to your worktop or board) with a rolling pin. Brush the top of the cakes with a small amount of the apricot jam. Then cut a piece of marzipan to fit the top. I crimped the edges, a bit like a pie crust by using the side of a teaspoon.

7. You can decorate the marzipan tops with whatever you like; I cut out flowers, butterflies and leaves from the left over marzipan, I added some confetti like sprinkles for the flower centres; you can stick these on with a dab of water or a dab of the jam.

If you have never made a simnel cake before please do have a go, I was amazed how easy it was and the end result was pretty tasty, flavoursome moist cake; so tasty its now all gone!

Now for some really good news! Baking Mad work with Eric Lanlard and have been promoting his new series on Channel 4. As I have tested one of the Baking Mad recipes from the site I am in the fortunate position of being able to give one lucky person a copy of Eric Lanlards Home Bake book as a giveaway. "Discover how to make the perfect Baked Lemon Cheesecake or a simple Blueberry Cheesecake. Create a gorgeous Steamed Sticky Toffee Pudding or a glamorous Hot Ginger Bread Souffle. Or learn the simple tricks behind a great Tarte Tatin or a delicious Bakewell Tart. Delicious recipes, simple tricks...this book contains everything you need to know to make gorgeous homemade bakes". (quote from Amazon)

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment BELOW and tell me what is your favourite home bake at Easter?

Please note: you must tell me what you plan to bake to qualify and then if you wish you can have additional entries by following me on Twitter/Facebook and the like. All the details are in the rafflecopter instructions below.

The winner will be chosen by me and you must enter by noon on Sunday 25th March 2012 at the latest.

NB. This post is not sponsored, my ingredients were not paid for and I was not asked to say nice things about this recipe. Baking Mad are providing the giveaway and sending the book out to the winner.

Best of luck and happy home baking!

And here is a more traditional version of the same recipe, but all you do is toast the marzipan under a hot grill once you decorate your simnel cakes...
  a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love baking 'figolli' which are Maltese easter almond biscuits! My Mum is from Malta. Yummy! x

  2. These are REALLY simnels seem much more appealing! I'm going to attempt my first one this year. I love the decorations! :-)

  3. These look so super cute! Awesome decorations! I've never made simnel cake before either probably because I don't like marzipan. I won't be entering your giveaway ... shock horror I know... I already have his book and wouldn't want to be too greedy :) PS love the oven gloves!!

  4. What a lovely twist on the traditional recipe , love the cutters :-)

  5. Oops forgot to say whta my favourite bake was, would have to be a chocolate cake decorated with mini eggs and chicks , cute hey !

  6. Marzipan heaven, with added spice and a brilliant-sounding old-fashioned name to boot. What more could anyone ask?

  7. I LOVE marzipan! The children always love to make 'nests' at Easter with either rice crispies or corn flakes, chocolate & mini eggs. Last year I made their teachers swirly cup cakes topped with mini eggs, but this year I think they might be getting mini simnel cakes!! Far more traditional & a change from the usual cupcakes! Thanks for sharing! :o)

  8. I'm still a sucker for hot cross buns, with extra warming spices and a few tea-soaked apricots and sultanas to make them extra juicy

  9. I have a fun thing I always make at Easter - just a normal fairy cake sponge recipe, which I pipe into hollowed-out egg shells. You bake them in the shells then have to crack open the shell to eat your egg-shaped cakes. Just a lil' Easter fun!!

  10. I am a useless baker. But, I might just try making hot cross buns, which I love to bits!

  11. I've never baked a simnel cake before either! I usually bake a cake heavy on the eggs .. nice and yellow, rich in flavour and simple!

  12. We used to have simnel cake when I was small but they were always decorated with 12 marzipan balls to represent the 12 apostles. Maybe I'll try this new recipe - been years since I had simnel cake!! Thanks for sharing

  13. I don't need the book as I am meant to be getting one myself, but just wanted to say how pretty these are Susan. I love Simnel cake, but have to say the best bit is the squidgy marzipan in the middle of the cake so I think I'll have to stick to the tried and tested.

  14. I really liked this cake :-)

  15. so pretty, the cake looks beautiful... and I adore marzipan anytime x

  16. Oh super-cute! I've never made a simnel cake either but might give these a go. My favourite Easter bake must be hot cross buns, but this year I'm thinking of trying a European easter bread - it's got marzipan on the inside, so a bit of a reverse simnel cake! Or a kringel, with ground almonds and dried apricots.


Please leave a comment...if you have tried one of my recipes I'd love feedback, and thank you for taking time to pop by to read my blog.

Susan x