Friday 3 April 2015

Simnel Cake and Bounty Bars! Easter Baking *RECIPE*

At the start of the year I set myself another Baking Challenge - 12 recipes I'm determined to try this year. All the recipes are new to me - I've never attempted them before, and they're all things that have caught my eye over 2014 and I've thought "I MUST make that". 

One such recipe was Mary Berry's Simnel Cake and a recipe I found in the Waitrose Spring Harvest 2015 Magazine for Pistachio & Almond Marzipan. I'm a huge fan of marzipan, but have never attempted to make it myself - so, as it's Easter weekend I thought there was no better time to get in the kitchen and tick it off my Baking Challenge 2015 list! 

I also recently came across a recipe by Mel from Melanie's Food Adventures Blog for homemade Bounty Bars! A Bounty is my mums favourite chocolate bar, and as her, my stepdad and my twin sister are all heading to Bedford to be with us for the long Easter weekend, I thought that it would be rude not to give these a whirl! 

The Bounty Bars weren't on my Baking Challenge list, but as ever I always end up making WAY more than 12 bakes/makes within a year. This is one of these little added 'extras'. 


A Simnel Cake for those who don't know is a spiced fruit cake with a layer of marzipan baked into the centre, topped with another layer of marzipan, and traditionally 11 marzipan balls to decorate - which are meant to represent Jesus' 11 deciples (minus Judus, of course). However, being an atheist, and totally non-superstitious, and because I love marzipan, and the cake serves 12, I decided to put 12 marzipan balls atop my cake - it made more sense that every slice is topped with a ball. The whole cake goes under a hot grill for a couple of minutes so the marzipan can cook and start to brown. 

Be careful - it browns very quickly due to the high sugar content in the marzipan - watch it like a hawk - I very nearly had a black Simnel cake on my hands! 

I stuck to good ol' Mary Berry's recipe exactly, I chose to soak my fruits in a mixture of brandy, vanilla cognac and tea over night, and I veered off-recipe for the marzipan - I decided to make a pistachio and almond marzipan from scratch to use in cake, instead of a more traditional almond only paste. 

If you'd like to make the same Pistachio & Almond Marzipan then here is the recipe:

Pistachio & Almond Marzipan


200g pistachio nuts
100g ground almonds
150g golden caster sugar
150g icing sugar
3 egg whites


1. Blitz your pistachios in a strong food processor until finely ground. 
2. Add the ground almonds, sugars and egg whites and blend to a thick paste. 
3. Knead together on a icing sugared surface to form a large ball. 
4. Weigh your marzipan and divide into three equal balls. 
5. Wrap each ball in cling film, and put aside.
6. Make your Simnel cake as per the instructions, using your Pistachio and Almond paste in place of Mary's almond one. 

I'm really pleased with how my Simnel Cake has turned out - yes, it's a little rustic looking, but I like that about homemade food - you can SEE the love I put into making it.

Anyone for a slice?

We had our first taste today (Good Friday) for lunch and it was totally delicious. I thought I'd post this today so you still have time to get out to shops to get some ingredients if you'd like to knock one up for Easter Sunday! It would make the perfect centre piece to your Easter table! 

Each slice of Simnel Cake works out at 591 calories. 
This cake serves 12 people an ample wedge! 


My second make for Easter were these fabulous Bounty Bars - they are SO simple to make, and involve no cooking at all - they'd be a brilliant make with kiddies, as there's plenty of messy stirring and chocolate dipping to be had! 

I loved making these, and they're totally delicious! They are super-sweet even with the dark chocolate coating, so I really would stick to dark chocolate rather than milk, otherwise it will be a sugar overload. 

I doubled the quantities in the recipe to make 16 large bars rather than 8 small bars, but make whatever quantity you need. They will keep in a container in the fridge for up to five days. 

Each large bounty bar works out at 273 calories. 

Yum - Coconut Heaven! 

What are you baking this Easter?

Mrs B