Gluten-free simnel cake
- April 2022
- Serves 12
- Hands-on time 30 min, plus cooling. Oven time 1 hour 45 min.
Becky Excell’s gluten-free simnel cake has glacé cherries and an extra hit of almond for a delicious, bakewell-tinged twist on this Easter classic.
Becky, who has been dubbed ‘the queen of gluten free’ by Nigella, began sharing recipes online in 2013 after being diagnosed with IBS and told to avoid gluten by her doctor. Her blog has since had over 30 million views and she’s written two bestselling books. Her third, How To Plan Anything Gluten-free (Quadrille £12.99), is a meal planner and food diary with recipes.
Find our classic simnel cake recipe here.
- Gluten-free recipes
- 24.3g (9.2g saturated)
- 70.9g (48.3g sugars)
- 175g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
- 175g light brown soft sugar
- 3 medium free-range eggs
- Grated zest 1 lemon
- 200g gluten-free plain flour
- ½ tsp xanthan gum (see Know How)
- 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 50g ground almonds
- 5 tbsp whole milk
- 1/4-1/2 tsp almond extract
- 50g sultanas
- 50g currants
- 150g glacé cherries (50g whole, 50g halved, 50g chopped)
- 50g flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan
- 500g block white marzipan
- 1 tbsp smooth cherry jam
You’ll also need
- 20cm loose-bottomed round cake tin
- Blow torch (optional)
- Heat the oven to 130°C fan/gas 2. Grease and line the cake tin. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and slightly lighter in colour and texture (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions, then add the lemon zest.
- Sift in the flour, xanthan gum and baking powder, then mix in the ground almonds until combined.
- Stir in the milk and almond extract, then stir in the dried fruit, glacé cherries and flaked almonds so everything is evenly dispersed.
- Grab the marzipan and use about a quarter of it to roll out 11 marzipan balls roughly 12g each. Cut the rest of the marzipan in half. Roll one half between 2 sheets of baking paper into a 20cm disc. Put the other half to one side.
- Spoon half the cake mixture into the prepared tin, then put the disc of marzipan on top, followed by the remaining mixture. Spread it out so it’s even, then bake for 1¾-2 hours until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then remove and leave on a cooling rack to fully cool.
- If the cake has a dome, carefully level it off with a serrated knife before inverting onto a cake stand or plate to give a really flat top.
- Roll out the remaining marzipan to a disc just larger than the cake. Warm the jam and brush it over the top of the cake. Lay the marzipan on top and crimp the edges.
- Brush a little jam on each ball of marzipan and stick them around the cake. Use a kitchen blow torch to brown the top of each marzipan ball and the centre of the cake. Or you can caramelise the marzipan under a hot grill – watch it carefully and remember this is optional.
The cake will keep in an airtight container for 4-5 days. Alternatively, wrap well and freeze, either before or after adding the marzipan, for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight at room temperature before serving.
Xanthan gum is commonly used to improve texture and shelf life in gluten-free baking. Find it in the baking aisle of most larger supermarkets.
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