Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The best Simnel cake ever: dairy free recipe

Back in 2011 I blogged our old favourite Simnel cake recipe. The same one my Mum had always used it was a real tried and tested Easter bake. Then, last year I needed to make it dairy free so replaced the butter with dairy free spread - and ended up with an epically dry, wildly overcooked cake. I now know that dairy free spreads seem to cut down baking time considerably, so this year had noted to halve the cooking time. 

And then I got to thinking. I love Simnel cake, it's my absolute favourite so I thought I'd put some of the moistness back in with a soak in some Amaretto and change up the fruit a bit. That, coupled with a lower heat in the oven and a far shorter bake has been a revelation. So here we have it - the best Simnel cake ever. No word of a lie. Or exaggeration. Honest. 

The best Simnel cake ever
Serves 12
Dairy free, soya free

6oz dairy free spread

6oz caster sugar
3 eggs lightly beaten
8oz self raising flour, sieved
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
7oz glace cherries, halved
9oz sultanas & currants/ raisins
2oz ground almonds
1 500g pack marzipan (apologies for change to metric) 
150ml Amaretto
2 tablespoons apricot jam

Weigh out the dried fruit and put it in a bowl. Pour over the amaretto. Cover and leave to stand for 12 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 130 degrees C
Grease and line a 7 inch round cake tin
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Add the eggs a little at a time with a spoonful of flour in with each addition
Fold in the flour, spices, and ground almonds
Add in the soaked fruit - including any leftover amaretto from the bottle of the bowl
Put half the mixture into your lined tin
Cut the block of marzipan in half and roll out one half so that it's big enough to cover the mixture in the tin. I cut around the base of the cake tin so it slots in nicely - keep any offcuts
Add the rest of the cake mixture
Bake for 1 and a half hours - test that the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer in the middle. It should come out cleanish
When the cake is cool remove from the tin, and unpeel the paper
Roll out the other half of the marzipan as you did before - again keep the offcuts
Warm the jam with a splash of boiling water and spread over the top of the cake using a pastry brush
Top with the next disc of marzipan
Split the marzipan offcuts into 11 equalish sized balls and using a little dab of apricot jam stick them to the top of the cake too. 

And you're done. The best Simnel cake ever. 

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