I was over at the Scholar Family's new home Thursday night discussing the Easter Sunday family plan. Scholar Woman asked who was to make the Simnel Cake, and Scholar Man and I turned to her in puzzlement. Neither one of us had ever heard of Simnel Cake.
What I forgot between agreeing to make it and Sunday was that I'd sent the electric mixer to the Scholar family. Creaming butter and sugar by hand is hard work!
The cake got good results, especially pleasing from the pastry chef in the family.
Below the fold, how I'd make it next time.
This was really a labor of love as I loathe almond-flavored anything. Even almonds.
Makes one 8-inch cake.
Prep time: perhaps 20 minutes
Cook time: as much as 2 hours
- 8 inch spring-form pan
- Baking parchment:
- one 9 inch circle to line the pan
- four 12 inch squares, to roll out the almond paste
- Electric mixer with large bowl
- Second, smaller bowl (for the eggs)
- Plate or bowl to flour the dried fruit
- Wire strainer
- Oven thermometer
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/6 oz./170g) unsalted butter
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2/3 cup currants
- 1/3 cup golden raisins, diced to the same size as the currants
- 1/3 cup candied lemon rind, diced to the same size as the currants
- 1/3 cup candied orange rind, diced to the same size as the currants
- 2 8 oz. cans of almond paste (I used Solo brand). You will have 1/2 can left over.
- 1/4 cup of apricot preserve or jam
- 1 tube of marzipan (I used Odense, which also makes almond paste but it wasn't in stock).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C.
- Using the bottom of the springform pan, make a circle on one of the 12 inch squares (I used a permanent marker)
- Prepare the springform pan: line with a circle of baking parchment, and spray the entire thing with Pam or similar (better coverage than with butter). Refrigerate.
- Sift flour and re-measure-- you need 2 cups.
- Add the salt to the flour and resift. Set aside.
- Measure out the currants and use one as a size indicator.
- Dice the orange peel and measure out 1/3 cup
- Dice the lemon peel and measure out 1/3 cup
- Dice the raisins and measure out 1/3 cup
- Turn the fruit out onto a plate or bowl. Cover with flour and toss/stir until coated. Put the floured fruit into the strainer, and tap to remove excess flour. Set aside.
- Open one of the cans of almond paste. Measure out about 6 ounces. Place between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out until a uniform thickness in a circle a little less than 8 inches in diameter. Refrigerate until ready.
- Open the second can of almond paste and measure out about half the can. Add it to the remaining almond paste from the first can, and roll out a a uniform thickness in a circle about 9-10 inches in diameter. Refrigerate until ready.
- Using the electric mixer and the smaller bowl, beat the eggs together until a uniform light gold color. Set aside.
- Clean the beater(s), finishing by rinsing under very cold water.
- Beat the butter, adding the sugar in slowly, continuing until light and fluffy.
- Very slowly, add the beaten eggs to the butter/sugar mixture, beating all the while.
- When all the eggs are encorporated, very slowly add the flour/salt mixture, beating all the while.
- Remove the bowl from the electric mixer, and fold in the floured fruit mixture, continuing until evenly distributed.
- Remove the springform pan and the 8-inch circle of almond paste from the refrigerator.
- Put 1/2 of the batter into the springform pan, using a spoon to spread the batter evenly.
- Put the circle of almond paste over the batter
- Put the remaining batter over the circle of almond paste, again using a spoon to spread the batter evenly.
- Place in the oven, and reduce heat to 325 degrees.
- Bake until done (the first time took 1 hour, 45 minutes). Use a knife, thin metal skewer, or bamboo skewer to test for doneness -- if it comes out sticky with batter, it isn't done. Some stickiness is to be expected, from the almond paste.
- Remove cake from oven and set on wire rack to cool, still in the springform pan.
- To make a flat top, place a weighted plate on top of the cooked cake while it is still hot and in the springform pan.
- When the cake is still warm but not hot, run a knife around the perimeter of the pan, and remove it from the pan. Peel the paper off the bottom.
- Allow it to cool to room temperature.
- Open the tube of marzipan and cut into 6 more-or-less even slices. Cut the slices in half and roll into 12 balls.
- Eat one of the balls, or offer it to somebody who likes marzipan.
- Spread the apricot preserve evenly over the top of the cake.
- Place the second, larger almond paste circle on the cake and trim off the excess.
- Place the 11 balls of marzipan evenly around the edge of the cake, but not too close to the edge.
- Refrigerate until dinner is ready.
- When dinner is being served, heat the broiler.
- Place the cake in the oven, under the broiler, until the top of the cake is just golden.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Serve in thin slices (it is really rich).
I'd like to try the recipe without the almonds and baked in a loaf pan.