I love Simnel cake at Easter and always made one for my husband and me, but the rest of my family either don't like marzipan or dried fruit, so I thought I'd try making small cakes with almost the same ingredients, then I could freeze some for me and give a few to friends.
I didn't put the marzipan layer in the middle of the little cakes, but put a layer on top, and to make it more springlike, I cut it out with a flower shaped cutter. The final decoration was a sugar flower - I'd bought a packet a while ago and they needed using!
Preheat oven 180C/gas4 You need a greased 12 hole silicone or metal muffin tin.
125g butter, 125g soft brown sugar, 2 eggs, 125g sr flour, 1 tspn mixed spice, 1 tspn cinnamon, 1-2 tbspn milk, 125g dried fruit and zests of 1 orange and 1 lemon [I didn't have any good mixed peel, hadn't got any home made, and I hate the cheap stuff, so decided to use zest instead], 100g marzipan, 2 tbspn apricot preserve or jam and sugar flowers [opt].
Beat the butter and sugar together till it's light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour and spices and mix together. Then add the milk, dried fruit and the zests. Mix it well then put into the muffin tin - I used an ice cream scoop, as I find this more accurate than getting batter over the tin!
Bake for 15 mins. Roll the marzipan out and cut 12 flower shapes or any shape you want.
Once the cakes are cool, brush the tops with the melted apricot jam and gently press the marzipan on top. Traditionally you would now put them under a grill, or do what the saintly Mary B did in her recent Easter programme, and use a blowtorch, but I was afraid to put a silicone mould near heat.
I added a sugar flower to the top of the marzipan.
Sorry, photo is a bit blurred, but you get the idea! I took some to coffee with friends, and they loved them. You get the good flavours of a Simnel cake in miniature - the lovely spices, the texture of the dried fruit, the hints of lemon and orange [which worked really well instead of peel], and then the nice layer of marzipan. I don't think anyone ate the sugar flowers, but took them home! Maybe I should have put a thin marzipan disc in the centre, which would have melted into the little cake and given another flavour and texture. Recipes develop from ideas, so will try the extra marzipan next year.
They're not as impressive to look at as a good Simnel cake, but they make good little substitutes.
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