Sticky Almond Cake

IMG_3164

It is said that marzipan is a bit like Marmite in that you either love it or hate it.  I absolutely adore it and hence this cake, which comprises a thick layer of the stuff in the middle.  This is the reason for the “sticky” in the title.  Cakes made with ground almonds tend to be deliciously moist anyway, but the addition of marzipan takes it to a whole new level.  I made this cake for my book club last week and received compliments and requests for the recipe.  Even my husband, who normally doesn’t like marzipan, loved it.

This cake can also be seen as relief from the relentless EU referendum debate.  At last the day has finally arrived and all we can do is cast our votes and wait for the result.  In a conversation with a Twitter mate, the other day, we bemoaned how nasty conversations had become, with people who normally share similar political outlooks finding themselves on opposite sides.  She and I decided we’d change the subject and discuss recipes instead, and that is how I’ve come to be writing about this cake.  So, @soyoprincess, this is for you.

Sticky Almond Cake

Ingredients

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 50g plain flour
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 350g marzipan (white, preferably)

Method

  • Grease and base-line (with bake-o-glide or parchment) a 23cm springform cake tin
  • Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and ground almonds in a bowl and beat until thoroughly mixed.  I did this in my KitchenAid mixer but an electric hand whisk will also do the job
  • Roll out the marzipan to the size of your cake tin and using the tin as template, cut in a circle
  • Place half the mixture in the tin and top with the marzipan, then cover with the remaining mixture
  • Bake in the baking oven, or conventional at 180ºC.  Start to check it at 45 minutes and cover with foil or parchment if necessary.   It’s ready when it’s firm to touch.  Sorry to be vague but this can take an hour or as long as an hour and a quarter
  • Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then remove to a rack
  • Dust with icing sugar before serving
  • This cake keeps for several days; in fact, it improves with age

 

 

 

Simnel Cake

IMG_0296

 

Why not make this delicious fruit cake for Easter?  As you probably know, simnel cake was originally baked for Mothering Sunday in the middle of Lent; girls in service would make one to take home to their mothers. I love it because it’s a fruit cake and lends itself to being baked slowly in the Aga, which makes for a very moist cake. Then there’s the marzipan which I adore almost as much as chocolate, and that’s saying something.

Last year my son’s lovely girlfriend made us a simnel cake, so we had two. No-one was complaining. The only problem for me was that she raised the bar and made her own marzipan, and now my youngest son says he doesn’t like shop-bought marzipan at all and suggested I make mine too. It really isn’t difficult and actually doesn’t take very long if you have a food processor.

Marzipan

This will make more than you need for the cake but I adore marzipan and was happy to have some left over. Disclosure: marzipan quantities given here are approximate. The balls on top can be as big or small as you like. The top circle can be as thick as you like. If you don’t want to make your own, I suggest you buy a 450g packet of marzipan.

  • 450g icing sugar
  • 450g ground almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsps brandy
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Simply  blitz all the ingredients in a food processor until it’s come together nicely
  • Tip this out onto a dusting of icing sugar on your worktop and knead it for a bit
  • Flatten it slightly, wrap it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it

 

Simnel Cake

I used a Mary Berry recipe except that instead of placing a circle of marzipan in the middle of the cake, I folded small pieces of it into the mixture, à la Delia’s recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 100g natural glacé cherries
  • 225g softened butter
  • 225g light muscovado sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 225g sultanas
  • 100g currants
  • 50g chopped candied peel
  • Zest of a lemon (MB says 2 lemons, but I didn’t want it too lemony)
  • 2 level tsps mixed spice
  • 200g marzipan, cut into small squares or rolled into balls and tossed in a little flour

Topping:

  • 225g marzipan
  • 2 tablespoons of apricot jam
  • 1 large egg, beaten, to glaze

Method:

  • Pre-heat a conventional oven to150ºC/Fan 130ºC/Gas 2
  • Grease a 20cm deep round cake tin, then line the base and sides with baking parchment or bake-o-glide
  • Put the cherries in a sieve, rinse under running water, drain and dry on kitchen paper. Cut into quarters
  • Measure all the cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl, except for the fruit and marzipan, and beat well until thoroughly blended. (I used my KitchenAid.) Fold the fruit into this mixture and then finally the pieces of marzipan.
  • Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin and level the surface.
  • Bake in a conventional oven for about 2.5 hours or the Aga simmering oven for 4-5 hours. This really depends on your Aga. The important thing is the cake is coming away from the sides a little, is well risen, evenly brown and firm to the touch.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for 15-30 minutes. When the cake is completely cool, brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam and roll out marzipan to make a circle to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate. (You will see from my photos I made a bad job of this. You will do better.) Mark a criss-cross pattern on the marzipan with a sharp knife. Form the remaining marzipan into 11 balls (representing the apostles minus Judas).
  • Brush the almond paste with beaten egg and arrange the balls around the edge of the cake. Brush the tops of the balls with beaten egg and then place the cake in the roasting oven (or under the grill) for 3 or 4 minutes, near the top, to turn the marzipan golden.