I would never bake a properly large Simnel Cake, but The River Cottage Simnel Cakelets are perfect. They are a kind of Easter Fruit Cake, with marzipan inside. If you aren't quite sure about the marzipan's almond hit, then substitute some plain chocolate Easter Eggs.
I used packaged mixed fruit, but you can tailor your own, and maybe use a lemon instead of an orange for flavour. I love that this is really a one bowl mix, you just have to remember to soak the fruit an hour before you start baking. I have cheated before now and added a little boiling water to the fruit along with the juice, to speed along the plumping. I also like to soften the butter and warm the sugar for a few careful minutes in the oven while it is heating up. Whole nutmeg is definitely the go if you can find it in your supermarket.
I topped the cakelets with a simple glace icing, but you could roll out more marzipan, colour the marzipan or use fondant shapes. River Cottages suggests soaking the fruit in some alcohol for the adult Easter celebrations. The little cakes will keep in an airtight container for a week.
Simnel Cakelets makes 12-16, depending on your cup cake tray
- zest and juice of an orange
- 250g mixed dried fruit
- 175g softened butter
- 175g caster sugar
- 250g self raising flour
- 1 tspn mixed spice
- 1/2 tspn grated nutmeg
- 3 eggs
- 75ml milk
To fill and decorate
- mini chocolate eggs
- pure icing sugar
Combine the zest and juice of the orange with the dried fruit and leave to soak for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 190*C.
Gently soften the butter and warm the sugar in the oven, or microwave or sun, so it is easy to beat.
Add the butter and sugar to the flour, spices and eggs. Start to beat with a mix-master or hand beater on a low speed. The mixture will look lumpy to begin with.
Gradually increase the speed and beat for about 2 minutes., The cake batter will be thick and creamy. Mix the fruit and cake batter.
Prepare the marzipan rolling it into small balls. I weighed mine and used 12g for each. Then gently flatten the marzipan balls into a disc. Line the muffin tin with papers and half fill with the cake batter. Then put in a disc of marzipan or a chocolate egg. I used half an egg. Then fill the paper cases almost to the top. Bake for about 25 minutes. The cakes should spring back when the top is touched and be nice and golden. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then place on a rack. I cooked half with marzipan and half with chocolate and made a mark on the side of the baking tin with some of the cake batter so I knew which was which. You could also just use different coloured paper cases!!!
Mix pure icing sugar and water to make an icing and pour over the top of the cakes. I like the way the paper case makes a dam wall. Mostly. Then decorate as you wish with more chocolate, or little marzipan, eggs.