The second new recipe for Easter is this utterly delicious Chocolate Simnel Cake from my friend Christine Capendale. It is one of the recipes which we created and photographed for an Easter High Tea feature recently and is a great chocolate spin on this traditional Easter cake.
Christine says: “The cake is decorated with eleven balls of marzipan and chocolate coated almonds to represent the twelve Apostles minus the traitor Judas. The chocolate gives the cake an interesting twist and the cherries and cranberries are a delicious surprise when you bite into the cake. The layer of marzipan inserted in the middle of the cake makes it moist and lifts the flavour to a new level.”
And if you like almondy marzipan this cake is right up your alley. I am also thinking that it will make a superb fruitcake for Christmas time, perhaps playing with the dried fruit combination to change it up a bit. The chocolate ganache topping definitely takes the cake up a notch in decadence. And that is never a bad thing in my book.
Simnel cake originates from the United Kingdom and Ireland and has been known since the medieval times. The cake is well known for the two layers of almond paste (marzipan), one in the middle and one on top. Originally made for the fourth Sunday during Lent, also known as Simnel Sunday, the cake is now eaten throughout the pre-Easter period and even on Easter Sunday.
Christine is a chef, food writer, dietitian and cooking teacher with over 20 year’s experience and her new book, Meals: Effortless Food for Every Occasion features easy recipes ranging from vegetarian meals and salads to soups, sides, comfort food and drool-worthy desserts. Meals: Effortless Food for Every Occasion is available at all bookstores.
- 400g marzipan
- Icing sugar for dusting
- 160g butter at room temperature
- 160g brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 210g cake flour
- 5ml baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 5ml ground cinnamon
- 5ml mixed spice
- 150g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 80g cranberries
- 80g glace cherries, halved
- 80g candied orange peel, chopped
- GANACHE AND TO DECORATE
- 40g smooth apricot jam, melted
- 180g dark chocolate, chopped
- 90g cream
- 11 small marzipan balls (each weighing 15 g)
- 11 chocolate coated almonds
- Pre-heat the oven to 140°C and line and grease a 20 cm deep cake tin with baking paper.
- Knead the marzipan on a surface dusted with icing sugar until smooth and divide in two.
- Roll each halve into a 20cm-diameter circle, place on paper and keep aside
- Cream the butter and the sugar till light and fluffy and add the eggs one at a time, beat well after each addition.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, spices and the salt. Mix it gently into the egg mixture
- Add the chocolate and the dried fruit and mix it into the batter.
- Spoon half of the batter into the prepared cake tin, cover with one of the marzipan circles and spoon over the rest of the batter. Smooth the top and make an indentation in the centre that cuts through the marzipan layer to let steam out.
- Bake until a skewer comes out clean – about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
- Cool completely in the pan
- Turn out onto a serving plate, brush with melted apricot jam and top with the remaining marzipan circle.
- Heat the cream and chocolate on very low setting in the microwave and melt to make the ganache.
- Pour the ganache over the cake and allow the chocolate to spill down the sides
- Arrange the marzipan balls on top and place a chocolate coated almond on top of each marzipan ball
- Dust with cacao
- This cake will keep for several days stored in an airtight container
- Recipe by Christine Capendale
A few of my favourite recipes for Easter :