Delicious and fruity, this gluten free, dairy free and vegan Simnel Cake is a smaller version of the traditional Simnel Cake - the perfect centre piece for the Easter table. Also made with less pricy ingredients for those watching the pennies.
Add the mixed fruit to a large bowl and soak in the orange juice for a couple of hours to plump them up encouraging a super moist fruit cake.
TIP: if you can't wait 2hrs, then pop the soaked fruit in the microwave with a cover for 2mins, the steam will plump up the fruit quickly, then allow to cool for 10 mins before adding the mixture.
While your fruit is soaking/cooling, prepare the cake tin. I use a small loose bottom cake tin as this cake mixture makes an 7inch/20cm round cake, ensure that you have lined the tin and greased it too, I use a handy oil spray for this. As this cake does not take as long as a rich fruit cake there is no need to over do the lining.
Preheat oven to 150°C | 130°C fan | 300°F | Gas 2.
Make your flaxseed eggs by adding 2 tbsp of ground flaxseed to 100ml of water then )if using) add the 1tsp of psyllium husk, whisk with a fork to combine otherwise you'll get lumps, your 'eggs' will thicken quickly to a paste, especially if you added the husk powder too. Set aside.
In a mixer, cream the butter, sugar, treacle until paler in colour, then add the flaxseed eggs and beat thoroughly.
Add the flour and spices, continue to beat until light and fluffy then add the fruit (including the soaking juice). If not using a electronic mixer, this is when you'll need strong arms!
Spoon ½ the fruit cake batter into the prepared tin and smooth with the back of a spoon or spatula.
Now take 150g of marzipan and roll out to ½ cm (5mm) thickness before cutting into a square. The square needs to be smaller than your cake tin so about 6 inches wide. This is because you don't want the marzipan to be too close to the end of the cake or else it will seep out down the size when baking and burn.
place the marzipan square on the 1st layer of cake dough and press down firmly round the edges so it sinks into the mixture.
Spoon the remaining mixture into the tin on top of the marzipan and smooth the top down, add a square of greaseproof to the top of the cake to prevent it from burning.
Cook on the bottom shelf of the oven for 1 hour and check on it. If the cake has a bounce to the touch (if not add another 10mins) then remove the grease proof paper and continue to cook for another 15mins.
Remove from oven when inserted skewer comes out clean and allow to cool slightly before lifting out of the tin and removing the baking paper.
Allow to cool completely before decorating.
Next, brush the cake generously with apricot jam to allow the marzipan to stick.
Roll out the remaining marzipan to a 7 inch circle about 5mm-10mm thick. Press down gently onto the marzipan brushed cake so it sticks.
With any offcuts, roll out 11 balls of marzipan - remember to miss out Judas, I normally eat him!
To caramelise the tops of the cake you have two choices. firstly you could pop it under a preheated hot grill, DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THEM! Remove from heat once the edges start to 'catch' (colour).
The second and much less stressful option is to use a chefs blow torch.
to make 1 flax egg you need the following ingredients:
- 1tbsp ground flax seed
- 3tbsp water
- 1tsp psyllium husk (optional but does add elasticity to baking)