Spring, Easter, all the newness of life, all the little chicks in eggs, all the chocolate eggs...I feel so happy at this time of year that I could do a Julie Andrews and prance across the meadows singing. But I wont...well not until I've finished this blog post!
Spring brings warmer weather and the promise of summer in the bag! Everyone takes a collective stretch from their winter hibernation and enjoys the longer, lighter days. Energy levels start to recover and we all notice the cobwebs that need a good looking at.
At BBHQ we have been baking, one of our very favourite things to do and what says Easter better than Simnel Cake? OK, Easter eggs,. But we're after that homemade, warming kitchen aroma that entices you in.
Simnel cakes, like other fruit cakes, are big subscribers to the slow food movement. This recipe doesn't disappoint, it takes a long and lazy two and a half hours to create a light and zesty pudding worthy of elevenses, afternoon tea or if you're like me, the treat you give yourself after another successful day of keeping those tiny people happy!
Remember, to keep your cake super fresh nothing works quite like an extra large BeeBee Wrap. Total game changer!
The BBHQ Simnel Cake
75g whole almonds
170g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
½ tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
180g soft butter
180g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
400g mixed dried fruit with citrus peel
50g glacé cherries, halved
1/4 tsp saffron
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
Apricot jam or honey, to top
500g yellow marzipan
Preheat the oven to 130C, and line an 18-22cm loose-bottomed tin with greaseproof paper. Cut an extra circle for the top of the cake.
Put the whole almonds on a baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes, check regularly! Then remove and set aside to cool. I love doing this to all of the nuts I eat, there is something so much more satisfying when they're roasted and crunchy.
Mix the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, salt and spices in one bowl. In another larger bowl beat the butter until it is super fluffy, best with an electric mixer, unless you've got some serious bicep power. Then beat in the sugar, scraping down the sides as you go.
Now add the eggs, only one at a time, adding a little of the flour mixture in between, this helps the eggs combine well. Finally, pop in the golden syrup and lemon zest.
Have the almonds cooled? Chop up and chuck in along with the dried fruit, cherries and saffron. Spoon half the mixture into the tin and flatten the top. Using a third of the marzipan, roll out on a lightly icing sugared surface to a circle the size of your tin. You can also use a BeeBee Wraps as a surface here as the marzipan will cleanly peel away from the wrap. Place on top of the mixture, then spoon the rest on top.
Pop the last circle of greaseproof paper on top and bake for two and a half hours until a knife comes out clean. Allow to cool, please do not be tempted to eat it now! Go to bed and do the rest tomorrow.
Use the apricot jam or honey to stick the marzipan in place, it's super good for it! Heat a few tablespoons gently in a small pan to melt. (At this point I got distracted and burned a pan to black, just letting you know what not to do!)
Take the cake out from the tin and peel off the paper. Roll out the remaining marzipan to a circle slightly bigger than your cake. Brush the melted jam/honey across the top of the cake and a little down the sides and place the marzipan on top ensuring it's a smooth finish. Cut the skirt of marzipan off using a sharp knife and roll into smaller balls. Pop them in place on the top of the cake, held in place with extra blobs of jam/honey mixture.
Store in an extra large BeeBee Wrap or cake tin. Enjoy!