Scrumptious Simnel Cake

Having never made a Simnel cake before, vegan or non vegan, I decided it really was time to give it a go. I knew it was a traditional Easter cake, and as it turns out was often eaten on Mother's Day too, but I didn't really know what one entailed. After trawling through a large number of recipes for inspiration and even a google image search to see what sort of thing I was meant to come out with I set out to bake my first Simnel cake. Heres how it turned out

It was absolutely delicious - despite a few worries I had after the top sunk whilst cooling and it began to look a bit crumbly.

For the cake
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 250g Pure soya spread (or any vegan margarine)
  • 250g white self raising flour
  • 4.5 *eggs*
    • 1/2 cup blended tofu = 2
    • 2 tbsp oil, 4 tbsp water, 4 tsp baking powder = 2
    • 1 1/2 tbsp wholewheat flour = 0.4
  • 30g ground almonds
  • 150g sultanas
  • 150g cherries
  •  200g apricots (I used tinned over dried and it helped to make the cake fantastically moist, fresh would also be good)
  • 3 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  •  3 tbsp soya milk
  • Marzipan ~ 150g (enough to roll out a disk approximately 1cm thick the size of your cake tin) I used bought vegan marzipan but there are loads of great recipes to make your own if you've got the time.
For decoration
  • Marzipan ~300g (enough to roll out a disk approximately 1 cm thick the same size as the top of your cake and craft 11 marzipan balls)
  • 2 tbsp Apricot jam (I didn't have any but I made a rather yum substitute from blended apricots and sugar heated in a pan until thickened)
  • Small bunch of primroses
  • Handful of caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp agar flakes
  • 1 tbsp water

1. Begin by crystallising your primroses as these will take a few hours to dry out and harden. Pick some from your garden/ a friends garden, rinse them delicately and then dry.

2. Dissolve the agar flakes in the water and then apply the cool mixture to the primrose petals. Once coated sprinkle the primroses with caster sugar making sure it sticks all over and then place the primroses on a baking sheet and leave somewhere warm to harden (I left mine on top of the boiler).

3. Preheat the oven to 160C, now to make the cake mixture. Begin by creaming the soya spread and sugar together, then stir in the flour  almonds, egg replacements, fruit, spices and soyal milk. (Don't add the marzipan yet this is for the middle of the cake.

4. Spoon half your mixture into a nice deep round cake tin, greased and lined.

5. Roll out your marzipan 1cm thick and cut to the size and shape of your tin. Lay it over the mixture.

6. Now dollop on the last half of your cake mixture and bake in the oven for 1 hour 45 mins. Check on the cake after 1 hour to see if you need to cover it with foil to prevent burning.

7. Once cooked cool the cake on a wire rack.

8. Whilst the cake is cooling roll out the marzipan disk for the top and create the 11 marzipan balls.

9. Assemble the cake using the apricot jam to stick the marzipan on ,criss-cross the top lightly with a sharp knife and then place under a grill to brown the marzipan lightly. Sprinkle on the primroses  when the cake has cooled again and tie the cake with some ribbon. Done.

Chocolate truffle egg nests

This Easter I fancied having a go at making homemade chocolate truffle mini eggs to put in some good old fashioned shredded wheat chocolate nests. The whole process of melting chocolate, stirring in a cereal and then spooning it into colourful cases makes me feel about 10 - which I quite enjoyed! I'm really pleased with how they turned out as the whole family loved them and they looked pretty too. As an added bonus you get some wholewheat from the nests and the benefits that a bit of quality dark chocolate  gives you too (I used one with 85% cocoa solids).

I used plastic moulds to make the eggs, the other eggs are from a packet of Whizzers - a vegan version of mini eggs and absolutely delish. These haven't yet appeared in supermarkets to my knowledge but I know of a couple of independent health food stores that stock them (some year round) and they can be bought online places like veganstore.co.uk.


  • Shredded wheat for the nests (about 6 should make around 12 nests)
  • Around 100g vegan dark chocolate 
  • 1 packet of whizzers and homemade truffle eggs for decoration
Truffle eggs (makes ~ 25) (adapted from BBC good food)
  • 100g vegan white chocolate
  • 100g vegan dark chocolate
  • Small bit of extra dark chocolate to melt to stick the eggs together
  • 150g vegan dark chocolate
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 4 tsp vanilla
For the truffle slab (which I used to make square truffles and to fill some eggs) I used the fabulous recipe on Steven's blog, see it here http://lustrousmusings.blogspot.com/2010/03/hazelnut-truffles-reverse-engineering.html 

1. First melt the dark chocolate to create the shells of the eggs. I did this in a microwave but you can use a bowl over a pan of hot water instead if you like. Carefully spoon the melted chocolate into the moulds using the back of a teaspoon to drag the chocolate up to cover the sides of the mould too. Don't put too much chocolate in or there'll be no room for the truffle filling.

2. Do the same with the white chocolate (if you don't have quite enough moulds, carry on past this step and then come back and reuse the dark chocolate moulds once the shells have been popped out) and then leave the moulds somewhere cool to set.

3. While the shells are setting prepare the truffle filling by melting the dark chocolate and then simply stirring in the ground almonds, icing sugar and vanilla. (A taste test at this stage by a non vegan declared the truffle mixture to taste like Ferrero Rocher, good or bad you decide)

I then aslo made up a batch of truffle mixture from http://lustrousmusings.blogspot.com/2010/03/hazelnut-truffles-reverse-engineering.html  adding a little extra sugar for more sweetness.

4. Fill your chocolate shells with the truffle mixture, I also then sealed some that needed a bit extra filling with more melted dark chocolate. (The flatter you can keep the mixture at this stage, the easier it will be to stick the two halves together without having to handle them too much and melt the mould design off with your fingers)

5. Leave to cool for a little while longer until set and then pop the filled egg halves out of the moulds.


6. Now use some melted dark chocolate to stick the egg halves together, I used one white and one dark half for each egg.

7. Leave the eggs in a cool place and crumble the shredded wheat to prepare your nests. Melt the chocolate and stir in the shredded wheat until you cannot incorporate any more into the chocolate.

8. Spoon the nest mixture into paper cases and fill with Whizzer eggs and your homemade eggs. Serve with any leftover truffle mixture cut into chunks and dusted with cocoa for an even bigger chocolate hit!

Being my first attempt these were a little fiddly and I feel the eggs could be even more lovely looking if I had of flattened the egg halves better whilst still in the mould to avoid over handling the chocolate when removed from the moulds which melted and messied them up a bit. Mind you, I didn't have any returned.