Easter Simnel Bundt Cake

Easter Simnel Bundt Cake
Simnel cakes have been on my Easter to do list for years. They are a traditional Easter cake which has been baked in Britain since medieval times to celebrate the end of Lent fasting, although Wikipedia says that they were originally baked during Lent to break up the fasting. It’s also interesting that they were adopted for a time by Mothering Sunday as they were a constant presence in our house during Easter due to my Mum’s love of them. My aunt would dutifully make her one every year where it would scooch down happily in our larder, pecked at over a couple of weeks with the magical preserving properties of the rich fruit making the cake moister and fuller of flavour every day.

Easter Simnel Bundt Cake

Easter Simnel Bundt Cake

Having said all that, the only time I can actually remember eating any of the prized cake was when I reached for one of the eleven marzipan balls, which represent the eleven disciples minus Judas, cruelly decorated and coloured by my aunt to resemble the size and shape of Cadbury Mini Eggs, to be wholly disgusted by the intense almond taste. From there, my eight year old self decreed a complete abhorrence to marzipan which survived intact up until my mid-twenties when I gave marzipan another shot and it turned out that actually now I wasn’t expecting a chocolate treat it was very nice indeed.

Easter Simnel Bundt Cake

That said, I sometimes think the two thick layers of marzipan, in the middle of the cake and the one which drapes over the finished Simnel cake is a little sickly so I wanted to disperse my marzipan more evenly throughout the cake by dicing it up finely and adding it in to the end of the batter. So this isn’t what you would call a traditional Simnel cake at all. I have done away with the disciples, not through any religious predilections but because those marzipan balls never get eaten. I have also made it as a bundt rather than the traditional round cake, added diced apples for an superbly moist cake, dark chocolate chips which ooze throughout the sponge and because it’s Easter so why not and then I bound the batter together with zesty buttermilk which makes the crumb a lot lighter and not weighted down with the fruit like a heavy dense Christmas cake. It’s a more spring like version of a Simnel cake if you will.

Easter Simnel Bundt Cake

I read somewhere that the reason our traditional British fruit cakes are not popular with our friends across the pond is because Americans don’t trust a cake that can last for over a week, let alone the months we nurture and feed our fruit cakes. However this is what makes our fruit cakes such a useful addition to your Easter larder. This bundt cake bakes up large but we don’t have to worry about guzzling it all down over a weekend, it won’t be as long lasting as a traditional recipe but it could certainly be chipped at over the course of a week without become stale or dry. Although, there is no way this cake could possibly last a week in our cake crazy household.

Easter Simnel Bundt Cake

Easter Simnel Bundt Cake

Easter Simnel Bundt Cake

225g dark brown muscovado sugar
175g light soft brown sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
Zest of 1 lemon
175g unsalted butter
4 eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
400g plain flour
125g ground almonds
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
350ml buttermilk
2 granny smith apples, peeled and diced into small pieces
140g marzipan, chopped into small pieces
150g dark chocolate chips
75g stem ginger, diced
100g glace cherries, diced
125g sultanas
125g currants
200g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Extra chocolate chips, marzipan and glace cherries to decorate

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C then grease and lightly dust a 12cm x 7cm bundt tin with a coating of flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. Beat the sugars together with the orange and lemon zest until fragrant.
  3. Add the butter, a cube at a time so it creams with the sugar, then continue beating until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time followed by the vanilla extract.
  5. In a separate mixing bowl sift the flour with the almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  6. Add flour mixture into the rest of the batter, alternately with the buttermilk, one third at a time until just combined.
  7. Stir in the diced apple, marzipan, chocolate chips, stem ginger, glace cherries, sultanas and currants.
  8. Pour into the bundt tin and bake for 75-80 minutes, covering the tin with foil after about 30 minutes if the cake is browning too much.
  9. Remove from the oven, and leave for 5-10 minutes to rest in the tin before carefully turning out to finish cooling on a wire rack.
  10. To make the icing mix together the icing sugar with the lemon juice until smooth and thick but just pourable. Spoon over the top of the cake then finish decorating with more marzipan, choc chips and glace cherries on top.

Easter Welsh Cakes

Easter Welsh Cakes
I can happily say that the first time I had Welsh cakes was in the most honest way possible, in Wales. We went for the long Easter weekend a few years ago and I might have got a bit addicted to these tea time treats which are neither scone nor biscuit nor really cake but a perfect amalgamation of all three. One of the local delis where I was getting my welsh cake fix over the holiday was a bit adventurous in their flavour combinations, as well as the usual plain version they also did a special Easter one, dotted with marzipan and chocolate. Unfortunately this incarnation has spoilt me and this has been the only way that I like to eat them since.

Easter Welsh Cake mix

Thus begun my Easter tradition of making sure I always have plenty of Welsh cakes to hand and I take such pleasure in making them on Good Friday to last the weekend. To be honest I don’t know how I manage to only keep this recipe for this specific time of the year as I developed a bit of an unhealthy obsession with them directly after that holiday and made them All. The. Time. The best thing about making Welsh cakes is that it is so wonderfully simple that the whole family can get involved. Cats can oversee dough production and puppies can also be of use, by running around the kitchen, making sure that any loose currant is hoovered up, providing the chef with less cleaning at the end and not at all providing multi tripping opportunities.

Wesley and Welsh Cake Mix

Easter Welsh Cakes

Easter Welsh Cake roll out

Puppy in the kitchen

There is something about doing ultra traditional recipes which denotes you simply must do everything by hand, using a Mason Cash mixing bowl like we had in school and the oldest wooden spoon and rolling pin you can find.

Easter Welsh Cakes

Easter Welsh Cakes

The only way to eat these treasures is to swipe them off the cooling rack as soon as they have been set there to cool. The chocolate chips will have casually melted and the hot cakes will be steaming with juicy fruit and plump marzipan pieces.

Easter Welsh Cakes

Easter Welsh Cakes

225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
100g butter
75g caster sugar
40g currants
25g mixed peel
30g marzipan, cut into small chips
30g chocolate chips
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp milk

  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and mixed spiced.
  2. Rub the flour together with the butter by hand, using the tips of your fingertips until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the sugar, currants, mixed peel, marzipan and chocolate and mix well.
  4. Pour in the beaten egg and bring the mixture together with your hands to form a dough, if more moisture is needed add some milk but you shouldn’t need more than 2 tbsp.
  5. Roll out the dough until it’s about 1 cm thick and then cut the cakes using a 68mm pastry cutter.
  6. Bring a large frying pan up to a gentle heat and add a good knob of butter. Once the butter is melted add the cakes to the pan in batches. Cook for 2-3 mins on each side until just turning golden and slightly risen.
  7. As soon as you remove the welsh cakes from the frying pan, sprinkle with caster sugar.