Cakes, Celebration Dishes, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegan Treats

Simnel Cake

Vegan and Gluten-Free Deliciousness….

According to Wikipedia, Simnel Cake is a fruit cake with two layers of marzipan, one in the middle and one on top.  It’s traditionally made at Easter time.  No-one seems to be quite sure what ‘simnel’ means.  Simnel cakes have been known since medieval times.  Different regions had their own version of Simnel Cake, and here’s a vegan and gluten-free one to add to the list.

I’ve flavoured mine with orange, cinnamon and ginger, and I’ve added grated carrot to help keep it moist and fragrant.

I bought ready-made, vegan, white marzipan, but feel free to make your own almond paste.

I hope you enjoy.

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SIMNEL CAKE

 12-16 slices

Ingredients:  

Dry:

  • 300 gms. gluten-free flour suitable for cakes.  (I used 200gms. white GF. self-raising flour, and 100gms. coconut flour.  If you prefer, please use your own favourite blend of gluten-free flour that’s good for baking!).
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon powder.
  • I tsp. ginger powder.
  • 5-6 tsps. baking powder (baking soda) : If using self-raising flour add only 5 tsps. baking powder.  Otherwise add 6 tsps.

Wet:

  • 175 gms. vegan spread : suitable for baking.
  • 175 gms. sugar: I used light raw muscovado.
  • 150 ml. aquafaba (chickpea juice)
  • 250 gms. carrots: peeled, washed, trimmed and grated fairly finely.
  • 350 gms. dried mixed fruit: e.g. sultanas, rasins, currants.
  • Zest and juice of 1 large organic orange (I used a lovely blood orange).
  • 100 – 130 ml. non-dairy milk.  (I used almond milk).
  • 500 gms. marzipan.
  • 2 tbs. jam ( e.g. apricot jam): mixed with 1 tbs. water.
  • Whole almonds for decoration.  (Optional).

Method:

  • Take 50gms. of the flour, and mix with the dried fruit to coat the fruit.  Cook’s Note: This helps stop the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the cake during baking.
  • Thoroughly combine the rest of the dry ingredients together and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, place the unbeaten aquafaba, the vegan spread, and the sugar.
  • Using an electric whisk, whisk them together until smooth, light and creamy.  This should take about 3 mins.
  • Add grated carrot to the blended mix, and stir in with a wooden spoon, to combine.
  • Add the orange zest and orange juice.  Stir to combine.
  • Stir in 100 ml. non-dairy milk.
  • Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the cake mix.  Combine thoroughly.
  • Finally add the flour-coated dried fruit.
  • Add a little more milk (20-30ml) if necessary.
  • The mix should be neither too wet nor too dry: (see pics.).

Construct the cake ready for baking:

  • Take a round cake tin : approx. 21cm. diameter X 7 cm deep. (I used a spring-form tin).
  • Divide the marzipan into 3 pieces:  2 x 200gms. plus 1 x 100gms.
  • Roll out one piece 200gms. into a circle the same diameter as your cake tin.  Use the cake tin as a template to cut exactly the right size.
  • Repeat with the second 200 gm. piece of marzipan and then set aside for decoration.
  • Lightly grease the interior of the cake tin and then coat lightly with 1 tbs. flour.  Place the flour in the greased tin and then shake until the flour is evenly distributed around the tin.
  • Place half the cake mixture in the tin, and smooth out evenly to the sides, using the flat side of a butter knife.
  • Place the first circle of marzipan over the cake mix.
  • Add the rest of the cake mixture, and again smooth evenly to the edge of the tin.  Try to avoid compacting the mix.
  • Place the cake tin on a baking sheet.
  • Cut out a large piece of grease=proof paper, enough to shroud the cake without touching the top of the cake.
  • Cut a hole approx. 2 cm. square in the centre of the grease-proof paper. (See pics.).
  • Place the baking sheet with the cake in a pre-heated oven Gas Mk 4 / 180C.
  • Bake for 45 mins.
  • Remove the grease-proof paper and bake the cake uncovered for a further 15 mins.
  • Test the cake by plunging a thin skewer vertically into the centre of the cake.  The skewer will come out clean when the cake is done.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely before removing the cake from the tin.
  • Remove the cake from the tin, and place on a cooling rack.

Decorate the cake:

  • Take the final 100gms. marzipan and get creative with you decorations.
  • Cook’s note: traditionally, a Simnel Cake was decorated with 12 balls of marzipan representing the 12 apostles. 
  • I made 8 flowers plus a large one for the middle, using pastry cutters. I used two different sizes to make double layered flowers.
  • When the cake is completely cool, brush the cake top surface with the prepared jam/water mix.
  • Lay the second circle of marzipan over the cake, so it covers the edges of the cake.  Decorate the edges… I made a wavy edge by gently pressing the curves between two fingers.
  • Brushing the underside of your decorations lightly with jam/water mix, arrange them on the marzipan circle.
  • Arrange almonds (also brushed with jam), if using. Press them gently into the marzipan.
  • Place the cake back on the baking sheet.
  • Toast the surface of the marzipan under the grill : making sure the marzipan is not too close to the heat.  Keep a very watchful eye to avoid burning, and turn the cake as necessary until evenly toasted. (See pics.).

Allow the toasted marzipan to cool before serving.

Enjoy!

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Peace

Goodwill

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Happy Easter

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13 thoughts on “Simnel Cake”

    1. Thank you! Let me know how it goes?? PS – you can use all-purpose wheat flour if you prefer (white probably)…I did it gluten-free because, gluten-free diets miss out on cakes sometimes ! :

      Liked by 1 person

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