20 steps to Simnel Cake

Apr 07, 2012, 13:09 IST | The Guide Team

Traditionally eaten on Easter, Simnel cake is topped with a layer of marzipan and 11 marzipan balls, symbolic of each of the most faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. It is often had as a tea-time treat. Pastry Chef Christina Fernandes demonstrates how to make this gorgeously light fruit cake at home

 To be prepared the previous night

1 egg (white + yolk)
1 egg white 200 gm icing sugar
200 gm almond meal* 
1 tsp lime juice

> Whip the egg and the egg white together in a glass bowl. Whisk in the icing sugar.
> Using a double boiler, whisk the mixture gently, but continuously to ensure that the egg does not curdle.
> Once the egg-sugar mixture reaches a coating consistency or coats the back of a spoon, take the bowl off the double boiler.
> Add the lime juice. Mix.
> Add the almond meal. Whisk.
> Set the paste aside to cool.
> Once cool, wrap the mixture in cling film and leave in a cool, dry place overnight. 

1. While whisking the egg-sugar mixture, ensure that the water in the double boiler does not come in contact with the bowl,
else the egg might scramble.
2. The sugar must be mixed with the eggs before being placed over the boiler, as once the eggs cook, the sugar will not be absorbed and the almond paste/ marzipan will taste gritty. 

220 gm butter
220 gm sugar
4 eggs
220 gm refined flour (maida)
110 gm sultanas or raisins
50 gm currants or black raisins
50 gm glace cherries, quartered
zest of 1 lemon
zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
400 gm almond paste/ marzipan
apricot jam, to glaze
For the egg wash:
1 egg, beaten
20 ml water

8-inch baking tin
8-inch ring mould (opt)
Butter paper

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C.
2. Grease an 8-inch cake tin with butter and line with butter paper.
3. Place all the dried fruit (sultanas, currants and glace cherries), lime and orange zests, orange juice, and cinnamon powder in a bowl and mix.
Set aside.
4. In another bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar with an electric beater till light and fluffy.
5. Add one egg at a time, ensuring that each egg is incorporated into the batter before adding the next one. Ensure that the batter is scraped down from the sides with a rubber spatula in between egg additions.
6. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Quickly tip the flour into the mixture while the beater is still running. Immediately switch off the beater.
7. Using a plastic spatula fold the sifted flour into the mixture. 

Step 8

8. Once the flour has been incorporated, fold in the dried fruits.
9. Pour roughly half the cake batter into the greased baking tin, evening the surface with a rubber spatula.  

Step 10

10. Roll out one-third of the marzipan and using an 8-inch ring mould, cut a circle that is the same size as the tin (in case you do not have an 8-inch ring mould, trace the bottom of the cake tin on butter paper, cut out the circle, and use that as a reference instead).
11. Place the layer of marzipan over the batter.
12. Pour the rest of the batter over the top and even it out, using a rubber spatula.
13. Bake the cake in an oven for approximately 90 minutes at 150 degrees C.

Step 14

14. Remove the cake from the oven. Allow it to cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes. The cake can also be made the previous night and left covered overnight in a cool, dry corner.
15. Take the cake out and place in an oven-proof serving plate.
16. To prepare the apricot glaze, gently heat some jam in a pan, adding a few teaspoons of water to thin the jam. Glaze the top of the cake with this.


17. Roll out and cut the remaining marzipan, as done earlier and place on top of the cake. Using a knife and a light hand, gently score diamonds on the surface of the marzipan. Apply egg wash over the marzipan.
18. Dust a clean surface with icing sugar. Roll the remaining marzipan into a thin cylinder and divide into 12 pieces.


18. Dust a clean surface with icing sugar. Roll the remaining marzipan into a thin cylinder and divide into 12 pieces.
19. Roll each section into a small ball, placing only 11 balls on the surface of the cake. Press the marzipan balls gently on the surface of the cake to ensure that they stick. Apply egg wash over the marzipan balls.
20. Place the cake in the oven under a hot grill till the marzipan is lightly toasted and turns a light golden brown.

* To prepare almond meal at home, powder blanched almonds in a coffee grinder or mixer. To blanch almonds: Pour boiling water to cover almonds. In a minute or two, drain, rinse the almonds under cold water and drain again. Pat dry and slip the skins off. Once the blanched almonds are dry, whiz them in the grinder.

— recipe courtesy Christina Fernandes. To place an order, call: 9820928420

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