The Simnel Cake is buried deep in the traditions of England, signalling the start of new beginnings with the coming of spring. This zesty version includes the not too traditional addition of warming ginger and citrus Earl Grey tea.
6 pieces of stem ginger in syrup
50g dried apricots
50g glace cherries
50g dried cranberries
60g chopped mixed peel
Zest of 2 oranges
200ml earl grey tea (made with 3 tea bags and cooled)
250g unsalted softened butter
250g soft light brown sugar
230g self-raising flour, sieved
4 large Clarence Court Hens Eggs
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons apricot jam
Icing sugar for dusting
Mini eggs and edible flowers to decorate
The night before you bake the cake, chop the stem ginger, apricots and cherries and add them to a bowl with the remaining dried fruit, orange zest and cooled tea. Cover the bowl and set aside to soak overnight.
The following day drain the fruit and discard any tea that hasn’t been soaked up. Grease and line a deep, heavy, 20cm round baking tin with baking parchment. It’s often useful to wrap a sleeve of foil wrapped in baking parchment around the outside of the tin and secure it with string. This prevents the cake from browning too much as it’s baked for around 2 hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 150c/ 300f/ gas mark 2/. Place the eggs, butter, sugar, sieved flour and spices into the bowl of a freestanding mixer. Whisk for a minute or two until beaten into a smooth cake mix. Alternatively, you can do this by hand with a wooden spoon. Fold through the tea-soaked fruit.
Spoon the mixture into the lined tin and level out evenly. Place the cake in the oven to bake for 2 hours or until golden and risen. To check it’s ready, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake. If any mixture remains on the skewer, cover the cake with tin foil and bake in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
When it’s ready, allow the cake to sit in the tin for 20 minutes on a cooling rack, then carefully turn it out and allow to cool completely.
Melt the apricot jam and brush it on to the top of the cake. Roll out half of the marzipan to a 20cm circle on a clean work surface dusted with icing sugar and place on top of the cake. Roll out 11 balls and arrange them around the edge of the marzipan circle. Use a blow torch or place on a hot grill for a minute or two to achieve a golden-brown finish. Top with mini eggs and edible flowers if using.