Apparently simnel cake is traditionally eaten on Mothering Sunday. I have to say I never remember eating simnel cake then, but it always featured on our Easter table as I was growing up.
Technically simnel cake is a similar mixture to a Christmas cake, and has some of the same flavours. However unlike Christmas cake, you won’t find any sickly sweet white icing (be it fondant or royal), and the almond paste is baked into the cake, with a thin layer on top that’s caramelised under the grill before serving.
The thing is though, simnel cake is beautiful but a flipping heavy cake to make. It is prone to collapsing in the middle it’s so heavy. I’m cheating with these simnel cupcakes because they are so darn easy to make, bake, and then even freeze if you want to. I have cheated twice I’m afraid (sorry), because I used some ready-to-roll marzipan to make life even easier on myself.
- 165g Butter (unsalted)
- 110g Light Brown Demerara Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Black Treacle
- 3 Medium Free Range Eggs
- 165g Plain Flour
- 50ml freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 400g mixed fruit presoaked (at least overnight) in 100ml orange juice (100ml)
- 50g finely chopped crystallised ginger
- 200g of marzipan rolled out to 5mm thickness (or a pre-rolled piece bought from the shop)
Preheat your (fan) oven to 170 degrees Celcius and line a cupcake tray with 12 cases.
Cream the butter and sugar together then add the treacle and mix in well. Beat the eggs into the mixture one by one until the batter is smooth and not lumpy. If it is lumpy then add a small spoon of the flour. Slowly beat in the flour, orange juice, baking powder, cinnamon and ground ginger. The batter will become thick. Stir in the soaked mixed fruit and crystallised ginger.
Place a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each case. Next, cut out a round circle from the rolled marzipan to fit on top of each spoon of mixture. The easiest way to do this is to use a small glass or cookie cutter. Gently press the circle of paste on top of the mixture until it lies flat. Add a second heaped teaspoon of mixture on top so that you have a marzipan “sandwich”.
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely before decorating as you choose.
Here I used a little warm honey to stick more marzipan on top of the cupcakes before toasting them in the oven.Note: For those wondering where you can get such a marvellous thing as pre-rolled marzipan/almond paste, Dr Oetker make it and you can get it in stockists nationwide. They’ve not asked me to mention it or include them in my blogpost, it’s just that’s what I used here and I found it handy.