Easter Simnel Cake with Orange Marzipan!
Mmmmm…… who doesn’t love spiced fruit cake? I do!
As a Wedding Cake Designer, I have made an awful lot of spiced fruit cakes in my time…. the smell wafting around the house (or The Organic Cakery kitchen) is just incomparable, warm fruity spices lingering with a gentle hint of citrus fruits.
As some of you may know, I am a British Pastry Chef, a passionate follower of the wfpbno lifestyle and I have been quietly converting some of my very favourite recipes into wfpbno versions, taking my time with each recipe to ensure I have created a perfect version that I am entirely happy with. Now, some cakes and bakes are going to be harder to convert than others and this is one of them. Fruit cakes are traditionally made with tons of eggs and butter, along with heaps of muscovado or dark brown sugar… and white flours none of which we choose to eat.
So you can imagine how thrilled I am to have developed a beautiful whole food plant based no oil (and GLUTEN FREE!) version, which in my opinion is better than the original. Not just because it contains no animal harming ingredients or refined ingredients but because it is absolutely delicious. Look at the texture in the picture! Its perfect and moist!
This recipe is traditionally served in the UK with marzipan, so this is my wfpbno version of marzipan, flavoured with freshly squeezed orange juice.
Of course marzipan is traditionally made with the most refined of sugars, icing sugar (or powdered sugar) and eggs, so this is my take on marzipan, I love it and think its delicious. Have a close look at the instructions when it comes to making this for some handy hints and be sure to watch the baking of this cake, you don’t want to over do it or the raisins will catch.
What is a Simnel Cake?
Here in the UK it is traditional to eat Simnel Cake at Easter, historically, it was served on the fourth Sunday of lent (also known as Refreshment Sunday, or Simnel Sunday) when the fast would be relaxed. It is now more traditionally served in the lead up to and during Easter.
The decoration of Simnel cake is fairly standard, 11 hand rolled balls of marzipan to represent the 12 apostles (minus Judas) and it often has little chickens on top, for this cake I have made miniature versions, preferring to take a modern non denominational approach to the decoration and of course I have not decorated the cake with chickens as there were no animal harming ingredients used in the making of this cake.
Easter Simnel Cake with Orange Marzipan.
Spiced Fruit Cake.
- 3 flax eggs Make this with 3 tbsp of ground flax seeds and three tbsp water
- 300 grams ground almonds
- 400 grams dried mixed fruits (cranberries, raisins, sultanas)
- 160 grams plant milk
- 160 grams date syrup or maple syrup
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 160 grams aquafaba (drained chick pea water from a can of chick peas)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp mixed spices
- 2 tsp bicarb of soda
- 1 zest orange
- 1 zest lemon
- 6 medjool dates
- 6 freshly squeezed oranges - juice only
- 60 grams date syrup/maple syrup (or to taste)
- 450 grams ground almonds
- First of all, I like to soak my dried fruits in a light jasmine green tea overnight, then in the morning drain ready for use.Line your cake tin with recyclable parchment paper and set to one side, a 9" tin would be ideal. If you scale up or scale down your tin size, adjust your baking time accordingly. (please scroll down for baking tips)Make your flax eggs and set to one side, if they set up too hard to stir once mixed, you can add a little dash more water to free them up, they should be stir-able when you use them.Weigh out your dry ingredients, add the lemon juice, zests, spices and baking powder, stir to combine.Gently heat your plant milk and syrup together on the stove until hot.Whilst you are waiting for your milk to heat, whisk up your aquafaba to soft peaks (exactly the same way you would with egg whites) and set to one side.Once your hot mixture is ready, stir your flax eggs into the dry, it will be stiff but try to combine as much as possible, then add the hot milk to the bowl and stir to combine, once you are sure your mix is combined fold in your aquafaba gently. At this stage pop the mix into the lined tin as quickly as you can and into the oven at 160 degrees Celsius for around 40 mins. PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR SOME BAKING TIPS.Marzipan.Boil the medjool dates with the orange juice and reduce the liquid by half, this will not take long... blend the dates, reduced orange juice and syrup together.Take this blended mixture and combine with the ground almonds into a paste.This is quite a sticky dough, I rolled it between to eco sheets of cling wrap but you could dust the surface of your counter with a light dusting of peanut flour and roll it out that way. If you find your dough is a little dry add just a touch of water to help loosen it.Lay it over the top of your cake and trim to size, roll out a few little balls to decorate and dust with raw cocoa if you like.
I was taught a very long time ago to wrap the tin of every fruit cake I bake with a piece of (recycled) parchment paper that is long enough to wrap around the entire diameter of the cake tin; folded over four times and then tied around the tin with string. Not only to I do this but I also cover the tray that the tin sits on with multiple layers of parchment (recycled) or a silicone sheet. The parchment can be reused for other jobs after this bake but what you are aiming to do is control the amount of heat that is hitting the cake from the oven so the outsides and bottom of the fruit cakes don't catch.
If during the baking, the top starts to darken too much pop a sheet of recycled parchment paper over the top to help slow down the colouring. You can also lower the temperature of the oven and lengthen the baking time. When the cake is cooked you will be able to press down on the top of the cake and feel that it is firm and baked.
The most important thing with fruit cakes is not to burn the fruit so as soon as you see some colour on the tops of the cakes you can follow the above instructions if you are concerned.