This Simnel cake recipe, from Doves Farm, uses gluten-free flour but no eggs, milk or dairy products. A traditional part of the traditional Easter celebration, Simnel cakes are a spicy fruit cake with a marzipan layer baked into the middle. The 11 marzipan balls that decorate the top are said to represent the true disciples of Jesus.
Cooking time: 1¾ to 2 hours
300g ground almonds
300g icing sugar
Rind and juice of two lemons
1 eating apple
125g sunflower oil
150g brown sugar
½ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp Xanthan gum
1tsp baking powder
175 gluten-free plain flour or rice flour
100g mixed glacé peel
1tbsp apricot jam
1. Heat the oven to 160ºC/Fan 140º/300ºF/Gas Mk3. Mix together the almonds, sugar, lemon rind and lemon juice and form into two balls of dough. Cover and set these aside.
2. Grate the whole apple into a bowl and the sugar and oil then beat vigorously. Add the water, nutmeg, cinnamon, Xanthan gum and baking powder beating vigorously again. Mix in the flour, currants and peel.
3. Press half the mixture into a greased and lined 20cm/8” round deep springform tin. 4. Take one ball of the almond paste, roll or pat it into a 22cm/9” circle and place it on top of the cake mixture. Spread the remaining cake mixture on top of the almond paste. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 1¾/2 hours.
5. Allow the cake to cool then run a knife around the cake edges and turn it out from its tin. Brush the top of the cold cake with the apricot jam. Take the second ball of almond paste and break off enough to make 11 marble sized pieces. Roll out the remaining almond dough into a circle 20cm/8” round using the spring form tin base as a guide. Place the almond dough circle on top of the apricot jam.
6. Press the 11 balls of almond paste onto the top of the cake, moistening the base of each slightly if they do not stick.