Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Mother's Day Simnel Cake

Traditionally an Easter Cake, but why wait til Easter? Its a put on a show kind of cake, so good for mothers day too. I made my own marsipan, so it can take a little bit of effort, but every much worth it.  Obviously its too late for mother's day now, but it will soon be Easter!


Ideally, almond icing (aka marsipan) should be left for several days after it has been applied to the cake, to dry out its oiliness, but I didn't do this and it was still good stuff. I adapted a Delia Smith recipe to make this.

Note: This recipe contains raw egg and nuts.

The Ingredients
350g ground almonds
175g Billingtons unrefined icing sugar
175g xylitol
3 large eggs (one of them separated)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice

The Method
First sift the icing sugar and xylitol into a medium bowl.

Stir in the whole eggs and the egg yolk. 

Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk for about 12 minutes until the mixture is thick and fluffy. 

Remove the bowl from the heat and sit the base in a couple of inches of cold water. 

Whisk in the almond extract, lemon juice and continue to whisk until the mixture is cool. 

At this point stir in the ground almonds and knead to form a firm paste. If you are inpatient like me, you probably didn't wait til the mixture was completely cool before putting ground almond in, Delia is probably more methodical than I am. That's ok... It can be kneaded at this point as its too sticky, instead cover the bowl with cling film and put it in the fridge. 

I adapted this from Phil Vickery's Seriously Good Gluten Free Baking (one of my fav baking books). 

You will need one 20cm round cake tin, loose base and 6cm deep (and baking parchment for lining).

The  Ingredients
Vegetable oil, for greasing
225g gluten free flour (I used Dove's Farm plain flour)
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
225g unsalted room temperature organic butter OR soya / olive spread
225g xylitol
4 medium eggs, room temperature
25g ground almonds
2 tablespoon water (instead of brandy, its your choice)
375g sultanas 
Zest of 1 lemon
Couple of tablespoons of apricot jam

The Method
Preheat the oven to 160c (GM3). 

Oil the base and side of the cake tin and double line the bottom of the tin with parchment. 

Sift the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and spices together. 

In a mixture beat together the butter and xylitol until fluffy and light. Gradually add the eggs and flour mixture, alternately to the creamed mixture. 

Now on a low mixing speed, add the ground almonds, water, sultanas and zest. Make sure everything is well combined and evenly dispersed. 

Spoon half the mixture into the tin and level. 

If you have a still-sticky marzipan mixture you can spread some on top for an even cover. If you have a firm and kneaded marzipan mixture, cut some off (about 85g) and roll out, placing it on top of the mixture. 

Spoon in the other half of the mixture and level out. 

Bake for 1.5 hours (maybe a little less, if you have a particular efficient over) or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. 

Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin. 

Take out of the tin, remove paper, now you are ready for the next marzipan layer. But first, spread the apricot jam on the top of the cake (don't forget like I did and have to put it on top of the marzipan).

If you have time, leave the marzipan in the fridge over night. Now you will be able to knead and roll the marzipan out until its a good fit for the top of the cake. Its nice to decorate the edges of the marzipan and make them look neat (I didn't offer), this can be difficult if the marzipan is still sticky. 

With the remaining marzipan, divide and roll into balls to place on top for extra presentational loveliness.

Keeps for up to 1 week in an airtight container, if it lasts that long. Having said that, its quite rich, so a little goes a long way - definitely a cake to be shared.

1 comment: