The Finns eat pasha and the dreaded mämmi at Easter (I still cannot understand the appeal of mämmi, no matter how much cream and sugar is added) and for my fellow Brits, Easter means hot cross buns and Simnel cake. Although Simnel cake is a little old fashioned, I try to make one every year. It is similar to a Christmas fruit cake, but it is lighter and has a layer of marzipan running through the middle and a marzipan top. The 12 marzipan balls on top of the cake represent the 12 disciples and the cake is put under the grill to lightly toast the marzipan.
I have adapted Vegan Richa’s spiced fruit cake recipe to create this vegan Simnel cake. By making it a little lighter, less sweet, adding the marzipan and lemon zest the cake turned out really well. So why not give it a try this Easter?
Vegan Easter Simnel Cake
175 g mixed dried fruit (I used raisins, cranberries and chopped apricots)
2 dl orange juice
zest of a lemon
400 g vegan friendly marzipan and powdered sugar for rolling
1 tbsp apricot jam
75 g mixed chopped nuts (for example almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts)
50 g chopped candied orange peel
150 g plain flour
50 g wholewheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp ground flax seed
80 g soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
a grating of fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp of salt
2 tbsp golden syrup or light syrup
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 dl coconut milk
80 g coconut oil, melted
Soak the dried fruit and zest in the orange juice overnight. The next day, line an 18 cm round cake tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 185 degrees.
Mix all the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl mix all the wet ingredients and then add to the dry ingredients along with the soaked fruit and any remaining juice.
Spoon half the mix into the bottom of the tin and level it off. Roll out a third of the marzipan on a sugared surface and cut into a round slightly smaller than the cake tin. Carefully place the marzipan disk onto the bottom cake mix and top with the remaining mixture.
Bake for 45 mins then turn down the temperature and bake for a further 20 – 30 mins. If the cake begins to brown too much cover with foil. Insert a skewer into the centre of the cake and check it comes out clean. If not, return to the oven for a few more minutes.
Allow the cake to cool completely and remove from the tin. Heat the apricot jam slightly and spread on the top of the cake. Roll out another third of the marzipan and cut into a another disc. Use the tin as a guide so that the marzipan exactly fits the top of the cake. Place the marzipan onto the jam and push down slightly so it sticks in place.
Roll the final third of the marzipan into 12 small balls and place on top of the cake. Heat your grill and place the cake under the heat to lightly toast the top of the marzipan. Keep your eye on the cake as the sugar in the marzipan can cause it to burn very quickly.