Category Archives: Cracking Cakes

Easter Simnel Cake

Simnel Cake
Simnel Cake
Image: bbc.co.uk/food

Simnel cake is a light fruit cake which is covered in Marzipan and toasted. It’s normally eaten on the middle Sunday of lent and it’s been around since the Middle Ages. More recently it was traditionally given by Victorian servant girls to their mothers when they returned home on Mothering Sunday.

Normally eleven, or more occasionally twelve, marzipan balls are used to decorate the cake, as the balls are supposedly meant to represent the twelve apostles, minus Judas or Jesus and the twelve apostles, minus Judas.

Serves: 11

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 100g glacé cherries
  • 225g butter, softened
  • 225g light muscovado sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 225g sultanas
  • 100g currants
  • 50g chopped candied peel
  • 2 lemons, grated zest only
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice

For the filling and topping

  • 500g marzipan
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed

Method

Preheat the oven to 150C/280F/Gas 2.
Grease and line a 20cm/ 8in cake tin with baking parchment.

  1. Cut the cherries into quarters, put in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper.
  2. Place the cherries in a bowl with the butter, sugar, eggs, self-raising flour, sultanas, currants, candied peel, lemon zest and mixed spice and beat well until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin.
  4. Take one-third of the marzipan and roll it out to a circle the size of the tin and then place on top of the cake mixture. 
  5. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.
  6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 2½ hours, or until well risen, evenly brown and firm to the touch. Covering with aluminium foil after one hour if the top is browning too quickly. 
  7. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out, peel off the lining parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.
  8. When the cake is cool, brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam and roll out half the remaining marzipan to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate. 
  9. Mark a criss-cross pattern on the marzipan with a sharp knife. 
  10. Form the remaining marzipan into 11 (or 12) balls.
  11. Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the marzipan balls around the edge of the cake. 
  12. Brush the tops of the balls with beaten egg and then carefully place the cake under a preheated hot grill for a few moments to lightly toast.

Decorate further with candied fruit and flowers is you wish, slice and serve.

 

 

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Apple Scone

Apple Scone
Apple Scone

There are some recipes that always remind me of being a child and a Sunday evening wasn’t complete if Mum hadn’t made an Apple Scone. She had (and still has) an old Hamlyn All Colour Cook Book (Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook) and the recipe originally came from there.

Makes 12 wedges

Ingredients

Scone mix

  • 250g Self Raising Flour
  • 4 tbls caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 50g butter, chilled
  • 1 cooking apple – peeled, cored and grated
  • 125ml milk

Glaze

  • 1 tbls tablespoons milk
  • 2 tbls demerara sugar
  • 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Sift flour into a large bowl and add sugar, baking powder and salt
  3. Rub in butter until crumbly.
  4. Add grated apple and milk and stir to form a soft dough.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, then knead gently 8 to 10 times.
  6. Pat into two 15cm (6-inch) circles and place on greased baking tray.
  7. Brush tops with milk, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
  8. Score each round into 6 wedges or stamp out into round scones.
  9. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until browned and risen.

Serve warm with butter (some good strong Chedder Cheese works well with it too).

Bara Brith

Bara BrithImage: bbc.co.uk/food
Bara Brith
Image: bbc.co.uk/food

Along with Welsh Cakes, I remember my Welsh paternal Grandmother Gwen making this wonderfully sticky cake. Although this tea-bread is made using yeast by commercial bakers, my grandmother’s recipe for Bara Brith or ‘Mottled Bread’ uses a standard quick mix method once you’ve soaked the dried fruit in tea.

Makes 1 cake

Ingredients

  • 450g dried mixed fruit
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 300ml warm black tea (standard english tea-bag)
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten

Method

  1. In a large bowl soak the fruit and sugar in strained tea and leave overnight.
  2. Next day preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. 
  3. Line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
  4. Mix the remaining ingredients into the fruit mixture and beat well.
  5. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake the oven and bake for 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Serve, sliced thicky with plenty of butter.

Welsh Cakes

Welsh Cakesimage: bbc.co.uk/food
Welsh Cakes
image: bbc.co.uk/food

My Welsh grandmother, Gwen, always had a batch of these ready for when we went to see herwhen I was younger. So they still remind me of her. These griddle cakes are really quick ad easy to make and make a great tea time treat alongside with the other Welsh favourite; ‘Bara Brith‘.

Makes 8-10

Ingredients

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 110g salted butter, diced
  • 85g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • handful of sultanas
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • milk, if needed
  • extra butter, for greasing

Method

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the diced butter.
  2. Rub with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.(You can pusle in a food processor if you’re feeling lazy)
  3. Add the sugar, sultanas and beaten egg and mix well to form a ball of dough, using a splash of milk if needed.
  4. Roll the dough out on a floured board to a thickness of about 5mm.
  5. Cut into rounds with a 7.5–10cm plain cutter.
  6. Rub a heavy iron griddle or pan with butter, wipe away the excess and place on the hob until it is heated through.
  7. Cook the Welsh cakes a few at a time for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown.
  8. Remove from the griddle and dust with caster sugar while still warm.

They can be eaten warm or stored in an airtight container for a week

Berry Marzipan Cupcakes

Marzipan Berry Cakes
Marzipan Berry Cakes

Over the weekend I caught a re-run of  Nigel Slater’s ‘12 Tastes of Christmas‘ and although I find some of his recipes a little over egg and mixed up these little beauties looked wonderful and will be on my cookery list over the next few days.

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 180g/6¼oz caster sugar
  • 180g/6¼oz butter, softened
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 80g/2¾oz plain flour
  • 150g/5oz ground almonds
  • 100g/3½oz marzipan
  • 100g/3½oz blueberries
  • icing sugar, to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. Cut out squares of baking parchment that would easily cover the holes of a bun tray. Line each one.
  3. Beat the sugar and butter together in a bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.
  4. Gradually beat in the eggs, then gradually introduce the flour and ground almonds. Continue to beat until all is well incorporated.
  5. Break the marzipan into small 1cm bite sized nuggets and fold into the mixture.
  6. Divide the mixture between the lined cups of the bun tray. Scatter 3-4 berries over each one.
  7. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, or until springy to the touch.

Dust with a little icing sugar and serve warm with a dash of cream. They are just as nice cold tho…

Ginger Cup Cakes with Clementine Cream Cheese Icing

Ginger Cupcakes with cream cheese and Clementine icing
Ginger Cupcakes with cream cheese and Clementine icing

I don’t do much cake baking, I think it’s because it’s less forgiving if you make a little ‘change’ to the recipe by putting too much or little of something in. However this is one cake recipe I do make, it’s sticky, gingery and orangey at the same time which is good in my book.

Makes 12

Ingredients

For the cup cakes

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 175g dark muscovado sugar
  • 150g golden syrup
  • 275g self-raising flour
  • 1 1/2tsp ground ginger
  • Zest of 1 clementine, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml butter milk
  • 2 balls of stem ginger in syrup, chopped

For the icing

  • 150g Cream Cheese
  • 75g icing sugar
  • Zest of 1 clementine, finely grated
  • Juice of 1 clementine
  • Slivers of clementine zest and stem ginger, to decorate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C\ 150C fan\Gas 3
  2. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases
  3. Melt butter, muscovado sugar and golden syrup in a pan over a low heat and set aside to cool slightly
  4. Sift flour into a bowl with the ground ginger and bicarbonate of soda then add the salt and clementine zest.
  5. Add the metled butter, sugar and syrup mixture, eggs, buttermilk and stem ginger to the flour and mix thoroughly.
  6. Pour into the cases, the mix will reach quite high up the sides.
  7. Bake for around 25 minutes until golden and springy, Don’t worry if they haven’t risen particularly well as the are meant to be a dense and sticky sponge.
  8. Allow to cool in the tin,this makes the sponge even more squidgy.
  9. Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth
  10. sift the icing sugar over and gradually beat in
  11. Add the clementine juice and zest and mix until fully incorporated
  12. Smooth a generous amount over each cupcake and top with the slivers of stem ginger and clementine zest for decoration.

Eat and enjoy….

If you like your ginger sponge to have a stronger, richer flavour, wrap the tin of un-iced cakes tightly in foil or cling-film and leave for a day or two. The sponge will get darker and the flavour more intense. Ice, decorate and enjoy even more gingery sticky goodness…