Gluten & Nut Free Light Fruity Simnel Cake
With Easter just around the corner (and hopefully some improved weather too) here is my different take on a very traditional and favourite seasonal recipe, the Simnel Cake. The Simnel Cake is characteristically a light fruit cake with both a layer of marzipan running through the centre and a further layer on top of the cake, finished with twelve marzipan balls, supposedly representing the twelve apostles – a recipe developed in Victorian times.
My version however eliminates both gluten and nuts, with the removal of the marzipan and almonds and replacing the flour with gluten free flour and xanthan gum. Some gluten free sponges can be crumbly but with the addition of xanthan gum (available in good supermarkets, the lightness and texture should still be great. This light fruit cake contains a layer of fresh orange buttercream and is topped with the same, together with twelve white chocolates. I’ve also chosen to decorate with some pansies and violas, which are a good non-toxic edible flower decoration, really versatile and easy to get hold of at this time of year (you can even frost them if you want with a light coat of egg white then caster sugar, leave to dry overnight on baking parchment). Whether you’re of religious persuasion or not, this cake will make a stunning centrepiece if you’re having a celebration or get together during the Easter break. I hope you enjoy my lighter version and allergy friendly version. Liz x
(For the traditional non-allergy version, please scroll down to the end of this blog post)
300gms glace cherries, quartered, rinsed and dried
200gms chopped pineapple, drained and dried
300gms dried apricots, snipped
Grated rind of 2 lemons
300gms sultanas rinsed and dried
225gms gluten Free SR Flour (if you don’t need gluten free version, simply replace with 225gms SR Flour and don’t use the xanthan gum)
1tsp Xanthan Gum
225gms soft margarine
Filling and Topping
250gm Unsalted butter, softened
250gm Icing Sugar, sifted
Grated rind of 1 large orange
½ tsp Orange oil or essence (to taste)
Pre-heat the oven to 160º and line the base and sides of an 8” tin with baking parchment. Ensure your chopped cherries and pineapple have been dried on kitchen paper – this will prevent the fruit sinking, then mix them with the sultanas, apricots and lemon rind.
Place the flour, xanthan gum, margarine and eggs in to a mixer and mix at a good speed until well blended, then lightly fold in the fruit mix. Pour the whole mixture in to your lined tin and level the surface.
Bake in the pre-heated oven, after the first hour you may wish to cover the cake loosely with foil to prevent it getting too dark. Bake in total for 2 hours, or until golden brown and when a skewer is inserted it comes out cleanly. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about half an hour then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.
Whilst the cake is baking, whip up the softened butter for your filling, until it is light and fluffy then slowly add the icing sugar. (I always cover my mixer with a teatowel for this to stop the room getting coated in a fine layer of icing sugar!). When completely blended and light and fluffy grate in the orange rind and add the orange oil – you may wish to add more if you prefer a stronger orange flavour.
When cool, split the cake in half by cutting evenly and gently with a bread knife around the sides, until you get through the centre, turning the cake as you cut to ensure it is even.
Spread half the buttercream in the centre of the cake then replace the top half and spread the remainder of the buttercream on the top of the cake.
Decorate the top of the cake with the white chocolate balls and finish with edible flowers if you wish. Delicious with a piping hot cup of good tea! Liz x
For those not suffering with allergies, a normal version can be made by replacing the gluten free flour with self-raising flour and there is no need to add the xanthan gum – you can also go down the traditional route of using marzipan instead of the buttercream substitute used in the recipe above. You will need approx 450gms of marzipan. Half fill your cake tin with the mixture, using one third of your marzipan lay in on top of the cake mixture a rolled out circler of marzipan then pour the remaining cake mixture on top and bake as per the instructions. When your cake is cool, glaze the top of the cake with some sieved and heated up apricot jam, roll out another third of the marzipan in to a circle and place it on top of the cake, scroring it gently in a criss-cross pattern with a knife and use the remaining third to make your twelve balls, stick those on then grill very gently under the grill until it has browned slightly.