Mini simnel cakes
- April 2019
- Makes 12
- Hands-on time 30 min, oven time 40 min, plus steeping and cooling
Martha Collison’s mini simnel cakes, made with cherries and almonds, are a bite-sized alternative to a traditional Easter simnel cake.
Martha says: “Traditionally, a simnel cake is baked whole, with 11 balls of marzipan positioned on top to represent Jesus’s disciples – minus Judas, who betrayed him. I’ve transformed this classic into mini versions, and sculpted the marzipan balls into cherries to reflect what’s inside.”
- 16.8g (6.6g saturated)
- 64.6g (51.9g sugars)
- 100g dried cherries
- 75g glacé cherries, quartered
- 50g currants
- 50g raisins
- 3 tbsp amaretto
- 125g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
- 125g soft light brown sugar
- 2 medium free-range eggs
- 125g self-raising flour
- 25g ground almonds
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- Icing sugar to dust
- 500g marzipan
- 2 tbsp cherry jam
- Freeze-dried berry dust to decorate (see tips)
- 25g good quality dark chocolate, melted
You’ll also need…
- 12-hole muffin tin, greased and lined with non-stick baking paper (or use muffin cases)
- 5cm cutter (preferably with a round and fluted edge)
- Piping bag and small nozzle
- Mix the dried and glacé fruit in a small bowl with the amaretto. Cover and leave to steep for at least an hour (overnight if you have the time).
- Heat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas 3½. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl using an electric whisk. When it’s pale and fluffy, add the eggs, then beat again until smooth.
- Combine the flour, ground almonds and mixed spice in a small bowl, then add to the egg mixture and beat until smooth. Fold in the soaked dried fruit and any liquid left in the bowl, then set aside.
- Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar. Take half the marzipan and roll out to a thickness of a £1 coin, then use the cutter (with the smooth edge) to stamp out 12 discs.
- Spoon half the cake mixture equally among the 12 lined muffin holes and smooth the tops using the back of a spoon. Press a marzipan disc on top of each, then divide the remaining cake mixture evenly over the marzipan and smooth again.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before carefully removing from the tin.
- Roll out the remaining marzipan to a similar thickness as before, then cut out 12 more rounds, this time using the fluted edge of the cutter,
if you have one – don’t worry if not. Warm the jam slightly, then brush over the top of each cake and top with the marzipan circles.
- Create marzipan cherries by rolling small balls from the marzipan offcuts, then use the back of a knife to make an indent in one side to replicate a cherry. Roll the cherries in the freeze-dried berry dust. Fit the piping bag with a small nozzle and fill with the melted dark chocolate, then pipe cherry stalks onto a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Chill until set.
- Carefully push the chocolate stalks into the top of the marzipan cherries to finish, then place one on the centre of each cake. (If you prefer, you can be traditional and top each cake with a plain ball of marzipan (to represent the Apostles plus Jesus.)
To make the berry dust, whizz any type of freeze-dried berries (available from Waitrose or Sainsbury’s) to a powder in a mini blender or grind in a pestle and mortar.
The finished cakes will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
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