Simnel cakes are traditionally light fruit cakes made at Easter and decorated with a marzipan top and 12 marzipan balls to represent the 11 faithful apostles and Jesus. I wanted an excuse to use my latest impulse buy from Lakeland, pretty spring coloured silicone cupcake cases and little wafer bunnies, so I thought I’d attempt simnel cupcakes with a hidden marzipan ball in the center and almond buttercream. I had some mixture left so also made 12 mini cupcakes with the more traditional ball of marzipan on the top and am strangely chuffed that combined with the little squirt of buttercream from the top they look like flowers.
I based the cake on one from Recipes from a Normal Mum but tweaked it mainly due to what I had in the cupboard. They are lovely and moist with a lightly spiced flavour.
For the Simnel Cupcakes:
- 20ml orange juice (original recipe called for ginger wine or I think you could also use sherry for a Christmas version)
- 100g mixed dried fruit (I used mainly sultanas with some cherries and mixed peel but you could have raisins, dates apricots etc)
- 100g self raising flour
- 1/2tsp baking powder
- 1/2tsp ground ginger
- 1/2tsp cinnamon
- 1/4tsp nutmeg
- 60g ground almonds
- 100g caster sugar
- 50g dark brown sugar
- 150g butter
- 3 eggs
- 1tbsp milk
- 75g marzipan
For the buttercream:
- 100g butter
- 200g icing sugar
- 1tbsp milk
- 1tsp almond essence
- Preheat the oven to 180°c.
- Warm the orange juice in a saucepan and then drop in the fruit, leaving it to absorb the juice and plump up.
- Make sure all the other ingredients (except the marzipan) are at room temperature and mix together until smooth using an electric hand or stand mixer. You can use the normal creaming method if you are doing it by hand.
- Add the fruit mixture and stir through.
- Take about 2/3 of the marzipan and role into 8 balls about the size of a chickpea.
- Fill 8 of the larger cupcake cases about 1/3 full with batter, gently drop in a ball of marzipan and then top up to 2/3 with batter.
- Put in the center of the oven for 20 min, until brown and firm.
- Use the remaining batter to fill 12 mini cupcake cases (no marzipan this time) and put them in the top of the oven for about 7 min.
- While the cakes cool, cream together all the buttercream ingredients and put into a piping bag and roll the rest of the marzipan into 12 little balls.
- Pipe swirls of icing onto the larger cupcakes (add any decorations you fancy) and little stars onto the mini ones with a ball of marzipan on top.