You know how sometimes you get such a good idea for a bake that it has to be tried, even if it isn't quite appropriate at the time? Or that you know you are likely to upset your mother by making it while you are away at university, because it is the type of cake she will love but the idea is such a good one that you have to try it anyway? Well this was one of those ideas.
I came across a recipe in a BBC Good Food supplement for an Eccles Cake but I wasn't happy that they had included chunks of apple. A cake version of a pastry that I've never been keen on really appealed because cake is my thing. When I'm playing around with recipes I like to stay as true to the original idea as possible (contradiction I know) and since when have Eccles cakes contained apples? That's just being silly. So I did it my way.
At the same time as seeing the original recipe, I was fancying making a Simnel cake. I was determined that this year would be the year I would make one, as well as my own marzipan, even if I didn't get chance at Easter time. Then it hit me. Combine them both. Oh my goodness me - what a result.
I couldn't believe how good it tasted. Such a difference from the pastries that I don't like and yet it contains all the flavours of tradtion. A rich and buttery, silky close crumb enveloping a layer of spiced, almost caramelised currants. Add in the layer of homemade marzipan which bakes to become a melting fudgy delight and finish it off with another layer of glazed and toasted marzipan on top. So simple. So delicious.
I really didn't realise how easy it is to make your own marzipan. I've heard of people that say it isn't worth it. Well, I don't care how many recipes you have published. You've got something wrong. And if it's getting the texture right that is the bother......really? It may have been a case of beginners luck with me. Now I want to try other nut marzipans. My mum will be particularly happy when I do a pecan version though I might not be able to make it in front of her or none will end up as intended.
Even my housemate liked the marzipan. It was a struggle to save her some but the meagre ball I did manage to not eat was devoured by her even though she doesn't like the shop bought stuff. I'm never buying the packet stuff again.
So. I may have missed Easter Sunday but when you like a baked good that much enjoyment of it shouldn't be limited to certain seasons. I think Mum would be pretty pleased if I made it again sometime soon. Then again, there are the hot cross buns I want to play with before I go back to university. We've even avoided buying our favourites from M&S because I have ideas. I hope they are worth the wait. If they are anywhere as near as successful as I thought this cake was then I'll be onto something good. Happy Easter everyone!
Simnel Eccles Cake
A cake version of the famous spiced fruit filled buttery pastry crossed with the most classic of Easter cakes - simnel cake.
IngredientsFor the marzipan:
- 225g ground almonds
- 225g icing sugar
- 1 medium egg
- 0.5 tsp almond extract
- Apricot jam or marmalade to glaze
- 175g softened butter
- 175g dark soft brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 225g self-raising flour
- 75g plain yoghurt
- 0.5 tsp each cinnamon and mixed spice
- Pinch of ground cloves
- Zest of half a lemon
- 1 tbsp melted butter
- 1 tbsp dark soft brown sugar
- 110g currants
1. First make the marzipan. Sift the ground almonds and icing sugar together into a bowl then mix in the almond extract and egg. Knead together until combined and smooth, form into a ball and wrap well in cling film until required.2. Next prepare the filling. Mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl until even distributed. Set aside while you make the cake.3. Set the oven to 170 C/150 C fan and grease and line a 7" circular cake tin.4. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Whisk the eggs and vanilla together then beat into the butter and sugar a little at a time until all combined. Sift the flour then fold into the mixture, alternating with the yoghurt.5. Transfer half the mixture to the cake tin. Roll out a third of the marzipan to a few mm thick and cut to a circle which fits into the tin. Lay on top of the cake mix, smoothing out any of the bubbles. Place the fruit filling on top leaving a border, then add the remaining cake mixture, first in the border space, then over the top. Level off and bake in the preheated oven for around an hour, checking the cake and adjusting the temperature as necessary.6. When a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean remove the cake from the oven and cool in the tin on a wire rack.7. When the cake is cool, remove from the tin. Roll out half the remaining marzipan to a few mm thick and cut to a circle slightly larger than the cake. Sieve some warmed aprocot jam or shredless marmalade and use to stick the disc to the top of the cake and crimp the edges. If the top of your cake isn't level, turn upside down and use the base as the top.8. Make 11 balls from the last of the marzipan (mine were about 10g each) and use some more jam/marmalade to stick around the cake edge. Place the cake under a heated grill until starting to brown, then remove and glaze with jam/marmalade. Enjoy!
If the hosts can accept my apologies for being so boastful in this post, I'd like to enter this into a couple of Easter themed challenges. I would like to blame it on how excited I get when I get a bake right. Passion is good in a baker right?! These challenges are:
Calendar Cakes host by Rachel from Dollybakes.
Love Cake hosted by Ness at JibberJabberUK.
Both are brilliant challenges so pop over to see what is going on!