BEN’S ZONE: Dairy Free Easter Simnel Cake Recipe

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Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness.  You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂


Dairy Free Easter Simnel Cake Recipe

Easter is ace, I think it often gets overlooked in favour of Christmas but to me it’s just as important. Whatever your views on the spiritual significance of Easter (and that side is important to me) it always makes me feel that winter is ending and we can start looking forward to longer days and a little sunshine. Easter eggs are one thing I love for sure, but another Easter must have is simnel cake. Every year my mum would make one of these delightful confections and so as well as being one of my favourite cakes, it evokes happy memories of my childhood.

For the uninitiated a simnel cake is a fruit cake, much lighter than a traditional Christmas cake and made amazing by a layer of marzipan that’s sandwiched into the middle of the cake and baked in. The net effect is a wonderfully fruity slice with a dark, chewy, caramel like layer of marzipan straight through the middle. I thought I would share the recipe I use. I don’t have alcohol in food so I soak my fruit in tea instead. I’ve tried various tea combinations but honestly, straight up Tetley’s is just as good as any of the wilder green tea combinations I’ve tried. When I make stollen I always recommend making marzipan from scratch, it’s easy, it tastes great and it makes you feel like a baking jedi, here I buy it as bought marzipan is easier to roll and that’s super important. So here we go. The cake is dairy free as if it wasn’t my daughter could not have any and that would make my life not worth living 😉 .

Ingredients

  • 40g blanched almonds
  • 360g currants
  • 130g sultanas
  • 225g raisins
  • 85g mixed peel
  • 85g glace cherries (halved)
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 210g dairy free spread
  • 210g light muscovedo sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 shot expresso
  • 2 packs marzipan
  • icing sugar (for rolling the marzipan)
  • non-bitty marmalade or lightly flavoured jam
  • 800ml tea

Recipe

Mixing the simnel cake

1. Put all raisins, currants and sultanas in bowl, cover with tea, soak overnight
2. Pre-heat oven to gas mark 2 1/2
3. Next day line an 8″ circular tin with greased baking parchment
4. Drain off fruit and put in a bowl with all dry ingredients other than sugar and non-dairy spread. Sift the flour
5. Mix fruit and other bits together so that they’re a big sticky mess
6. Beat sugar into the non-dairy spread making sure to smash any lumpy bits
7. Crack an egg into a bowl, when you’re sure there’s no shelly bits, pour into the creamed sugar and beat in, do this for all eggs, one egg at a time
8. Once the eggs are all in and the mixture is all beaten fold in the fruit mix, don’t worry if it looks a little curdled
9. Fold in the expresso
10. Take about 1/3 of your marzipan and roll it out flat on a board, use the icing sugar to stop it sticking
11. Using the bottom of the tin as a template cut a circle out of the marzipan
12. Put half your cake mix into the tin
13. Put the marzipan circle on top of the mix
14. Spoon the rest of the mix over the top
15. Bake for 2-3 hours, test to see if a skewer comes out clean, put it back for 5-10 minute stints until your skewer is dry
16. Cool cake completely
17. Use a bread knife to carefully cut the curved top of the cake to make it flat (at this point you can silence questions from kids with bits of cake off-cut)
18. Turn cake over and put onto a cake board (yes, it’s an expensive cake, might as well do it properly) so that the totally flat bottom is facing up
19. Take 3/4 of the marzipan you have left, roll out and use the cake tin to cut a circle
20. Dilute 1 tsp of jam or marmalade in a little boiling water to loosen it into a syrup (there is method in my madness I promise)
21. Paint the top of the cake with the syrup
22. Lay on the marzipan circle, syrupy jam now works like glue
23. While our syrup glue sets take the remaining marzipan and split into 12 equal pieces, roll these into balls
24. Using remaining glue stick the balls equally around the outside of the cake, traditionally these represent Jesus and the 11 apostles (Judas not being flavour of the month at Easter)
25. Feel free to toast up the top of the balls and centre of the cake with a blowtorch if you think you can do it without turning a lot of expensive ingredients into a smoking ruin. You can also add other stuff (mini eggs go well on top of the cake)

dairy free easter simnel cake

Enjoy over another gorgeous 4 day weekend kidding yourself that the effort involved mixing the cake somehow offsets the humungous amount of sugar contained within.

 

Lovely.

Dairy free Easter Simnel Cake Recipe

4 thoughts on “BEN’S ZONE: Dairy Free Easter Simnel Cake Recipe

  1. Sounds wonderful, I have not seen that recipe before, especially the addition of espresso – it is an interesting idea, the bitterness would counteract the extreme sweetness of all the sugar, fruit and marzipan. It looks great too.

    1. I know, observe how I used th blowtorch and neither the cake nor the house caught fire.

      Was a bit undercooked though.

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