This is another post that sees me preparing for my Easter baking course. Veg Patch Kitchen keeps me busy and I rarely get the time to bake for pleasure these days. If I am making cakes they are very likely to be for a course and are being made along with lunch items and I don’t have the time to experiment with a new recipe or post it here. Recipe development for the courses are a different matter though. They are researched and tested ahead of time so I know that we will be able to recreate them with success during the class and they give me an opportunity to still post here. This blog has given me pleasure, inspiration and returned my lost confidence to me many times over the last nine years and I don’t want to stop posting here when I get the opportunity. So apologies again for thinking of Easter when we haven’t left January yet.
These little morsels of deliciousness will be made by students on my Easter baking course, along with Greek Tsoureki, hot cross buns and, if we get time, Easter biscuits (aka poorly biscuits in this house).
I adore marzipan, and so do my girls. They make it just to eat, and if they can be bothered with the tiny extra effort they will cut them into animal shapes or make them into marzipan chocolates, but most likely they will just eat it in lump form. It is easy to make and so much more delicious than the bought variety. But by all means buy some if you want to miss out the step of making the marzipan.
These little cakes are very good, moist with the rum soaked fruit and streak of marzipan and just the right amount of sweetness with the marzipan top. Don’t wait until Easter, make them now.
You don’t need to soak your dried fruit in rum but it does make these cakes extra special. I keep a jar topped up all year so it’s always there if I need it. But, if you haven’t got a jar of rum soaked fruit sitting on the side (and really who, apart from me, has?) All they really need is an hour or so sitting in a few tablespoonfuls of rum.
For the marzipan: (to make about 325g)
150g ground almonds
75g icing sugar
75g caster sugar
1 small egg
1 tsp lemon juice
a few drops of almond extract (optional)
Place all of the ingredients (you may not need all of the egg so put half in to begin with) in a food processor and whizz until it comes together. If you don’t have a food processor then just mix the ingredients together with your hands until they come together in a smooth ball.
Cut out 24 small circles (12 for popping in the middle of the batter and 12 for the top). Make some balls for the top. Traditionally you would have 11 balls on the top of your simnel cake to represent the apostles.
Apricot jam or something similar ( I used my crabapple jelly) to brush on the top of the cooked cakes to help the marzipan disc and balls stick.
For the cakes:
150g softened unsalted butter
150g soft light brown sugar
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g mixed dried fruit (optionally soaked in a few tablespoonfuls of rum for at least an hour)
zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ lemon
You will need 12 cake cases and a 12 hole patty tin. Preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4 or use the middle of the baking oven of the Aga.
Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between additions. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the mixture and fold these with the lemon juice and fruit gently into the mixture until well combined.
Place a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each of the cases. Top with a disc of marzipan and then top each with another heaped teaspoon of mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until springy to the touch.
Brush the warm jam over each cake and top with a disc of marzipan and decorate with the balls. Place under a preheated grill or at the top of the roasting oven of the Aga for a few minutes until the marzipan is lightly browned. Place on a wire tray to cool completely.