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Monday 2 April 2012

Baking for Beginners: Mini Simnel Cakes

If your only experience of fruit cake is the massive faff that is making Christmas cake, then give these mini Simnel cakes a whirl. Lighter, quicker and perfect for sunny spring weather, these Easter cakes go down a treat with a mug of tea. Traditional Simnel cake is warmly spiced fruit cake with marzipan on the top, lightly toasted under the grill. These mini versions are easy to whip up and avoid the whole "will all my hard work be ruined if I leave these under the grill for too long?" worry by incorporating the marzipan into the cake.

Simnel cake is usually made with 11 marzipan balls to represent the disciples (Judas doesn't get a place on the cake, of course). I've decorated mine with marzipan as a nod to that, but you could put Mini Eggs on yours or simply leave them plain.

Mini Simnel Cakes (makes 24)

You will need:
  • 1 large orange, zest and juice
  • 225g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, currants and raisins)
  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 150g marzipan, chopped into small cubes
To decorate:
  • Icing sugar and water, mixed to make a fairly thick icing that will coat the back of a spoon
  • Marzipan
Make it!
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / gas mark 4. Line two 12-case cupcake tins with cases (if you've only got one, you can do these in two batches).
  2. Mix together the orange zest and dried fruit, and leave to soak in the orange juice for an hour.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon or in an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence and gradually beat in the eggs.
  4. Sift in the flour and nutmeg and fold into the mixture. Gently fold in the soaked fruit and marzipan cubes.
  5. Divide the cake mixture between the cases. Bake for 25-30 minutes until risen, golden-brown and firm to the touch. The marzipan will have burst out in some spots - don't be alarmed and don't, as I did, poke it with your finger because it will be like lava. Ow.
  6. Leave to cool, then decorate with some icing and marzipan balls.


  1. Heh, I like the notion of the cooks being all "oh, no Judas. You've been naughty. No place on the cake for you... well you should have thought about that, shouldn't you?"

  2. BAD Judas. NO marzipan for you.


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