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.
- 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.