Saturday, 12 April 2014

Simnel Cupcakes

It's the Easter Holidays in the UK! And here in the Cheery Chicken household things have been a bit hectic ~ we are moving house soon (exciting!) so boxes, newspapers and bubblewrap have dominated. But today I took time out for a little baking. I've always fancied making Simnel Cake, but for some reason I never got round to it . . . until now that is! Simnel Cake is a type of fruit cake which is traditionally served around Mother's Day or Easter. It's lighter than most fruit cakes, and has two layers of marzipan, one of which is baked into the centre of the cake. It is traditionally baked as a large cake, and topped with a disc of marzipan and 12 marzipan balls to represent the 12 apostles, but little cakes suit us better so I made Simnel Cupcakes instead! And this recipe makes 12 cupcakes, so symbolism is maintained :)

100g butter or margarine
100g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
175g self-raising flour
pinch salt
1 tsp mixed spice
50ml milk
1 tsp golden syrup
450g dried mixed fruit
25g glace cherries, chopped
400g marzipan

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4

Line a muffin tin with paper cases.

Cream the fat and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time with a spoonful of flour, beating well between each addition. Mix in the salt, spice, milk and syrup with another spoonful of the flour and beat well. Mix the remaining flour with the dried fruit to coat it, then fold it all into the creamy mixture.

Sprinkle work surface with a little icing sugar and roll out the marzipan to about the thickness of a £1 coin, approx. 3mm. Cut out 12 two inch circles and 12 two and a half inch circles.

Spoon about a dessertspoonful of the cake mixture into each cupcake case, add one of the smaller discs of marzipan, then top with another spoonful of cake mix.

Bake for about 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 140C / 275F / Gas 1 for a further 20 minutes. Top each cake with one of the larger marzipan discs then put back in the oven on a high heat for a further 5 minutes, or until the marzipan is golden.

These make a lovely alternative to the more usual fruit cake. The marzipan in the centre gives a layer of melt-in-the-mouth sweetness, while the layer on top cooks to a crisp and sweet topping. And there's so much fruit in them I'm pretty sure they count as one of your five-a-day*

*DISCLAIMER ~ they probably don't

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