Aside from Christmas, Easter is one of my favourite times of year. It marks the beginning of a new season, changing weather and lots of new adventures soon to be had. Growing up in a small village setting, our social calendar centred greatly around the church calendar too, and many a coffee morning or 'Lent lunch' would be enjoyed as a child with big cups of squash to wash down wedges of cake. Yum!
So, it seemed only fitting that I share with you all a twist on a favourite,classic Easter recipe...Simnel Cake! Think dinky little fruit cakes topped with marzipan make the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea, or can even be given as Easter gifts instead of chocolate eggs. They look just luscious wrapped up in a little cake box with some ribbon, or tied in a polka dot cellophane bag. I always prefer giving homemade edible gifts to shop bought pressies.
So, why not stick the radio on, don your apron and get baking. I'm sure this will help keep the kids amused for a couple of hours during the Easter break too. And you'll have cake as a reward at the end of it too.
100g self raising flour
100g plain four
1 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs (+1 for egg-wahsing the marizpan)
150g butter softened
150g soft brown sugar
50g mixed peel
Pre-heat the oven to 160c, Gas Mark 3. Grease and flour a 12 hole muffin tin.
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add 1 egg to the butter and sugar mix, and beat in, followed by half of the flour and tsp of cinnamon. Add another egg, and the remaining flour, and mix in. Followed by the 3rd egg, mixing everything thoroughly.
Mix in the raisins, sultanas and mixed peel until everything is evenly distributed.
Half fill the muffin holes with the cake mix. Then take a piece of marzipan and roll it into a ball the size of a large marble. Flatten the ball between the palms of your hands to form a small disc. Place the disc of marzipan on top of the cake mix in the muffin holes (as shown), before topping up the muffin pan with the remaining cake mix.
Place in the oven for 50mins - 1 hour, Check on them after 50 minutes to make sure they don't catch around the edges.
When the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven but, leave the oven on whilst your prepare your decorations.
Beat the remaining egg in a mug and use it to adhere discs of marzipan to the top of the cakes in the same way you did before. Then take another marble sized piece of marzipan and roll it into a sausage, recreating a ring shape on the top of the marzipan disc. Make little snips around the edge of the marzipan ring so it resembles a birds nest, before brushing the whole top of the cake with the egg wash.
Do this for all 12, before placing back in the oven for 10 mins. Set a timer, as a few seconds over could mean the marizpan goes from beautiful and golden to burnt and bitter.
Once the marzipan is gently browned remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool, before decorating with mini chocolate eggs.