Monday 14 April 2014

Chocolate orange simnel cake recipe

My kidlets have been on holiday for a week already, and thankfully the weather has been fabulous, so I have been able to throw them into the garden to play and keep them from under my feet. However one day last week my eldest was whisked away for a play date with a friend. My littlest kidlet is the type of child who needs a constant playmate, so I decided I would get her to help me make a recipe for Amelie's House, rather than play endless Pokemon battles.
I thought it would be good to make a seasonal treat, a simnel cake.
Simnel cake is a light fruit cake eaten at Easter. It has a layer of marzipan in the middle and is topped with another layer of marzipan and twelve marzipan balls. These represent either the twelve disciples or Jesus and the disciples minus Judas (depending on which version of the story you read).
As ever, I wanted to mix it up a little bit, I'm not one to stick to the traditional flavours. I asked LK what she would like to add, although I really didn't need to, I knew that chocolate would be high on the list. I threw in some orange and cinnamon too, and we came up with this recipe.
I made a 7" and 4" cake from this recipe, one for my family and a mini cake for an Easter present, you could probably get a 9" or 10" cake from the recipe.
Also the fan element is broken on my oven and while I am waiting for a brand spanking new one all my timings are a bit out as I have to use the conventional oven and it is not the best. So do keep checking on your cake when it is close to being cooked.



(Obviously if you want to save some time then you can buy ready made marzipan)
  • 90g icing sugar
  • 90g castor sugar
  • Grated zest of an orange
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 175g ground almonds
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 500g marzipan
  • Marmalade or apricot conserve


  1. Sift the sugar into a bowl.
  2. Add the egg.
  3. Place the bowl over a pan of hot water on a cooker.
  4. Whisk the egg and sugar together whilst still over the pan for about ten minutes.
  5. Take the bowl off the pan. Add the almonds, orange zest and cocoa powder and knead together until the marzipan is formed.

Cake Ingredients;

  • 250g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 250g light brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • Grated zest and juice of one orange
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 250g mixed dried fruit
  • 150g chopped good quality dark chocolate


  1. Preheat your oven to 175C.
  2. Butter and line 4" and 7" cake tins, or a 9" or 10" tin.
  3. Place the fruit in a pan with the orange juice. Bring the liquid to a boil and then turn off the heat. Leave the fruit in the pan to cool. This will plump up the fruit and add a nice orangey flavour to the cake.
  4. Cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time. If the mixture starts to curdle add a tablespoon of the flour. Beat the mixture until it is well mixed.
  6. Sieve the flour and cinnamon over the mixture and fold in well.
  7. Fold in the fruit, any juice that hasn't been absorbed and the chocolate.
  8. Spoon half the mixture into the tins.
  9. Roll out the chocolate marzipan and form it into circles roughly the dimensions of the tins. Place a layer of the marzipan on top of the cake mixture. Then spoon over the rest of the cake mixture.
  10. Place a square of greaseproof paper over each of the tins, this will stop any fruit from burning.
  11. Place in the oven. Cook the 4" cake for 60 mins and the 7" cake for 2 hours. Check the small cake after 45 mins, and the larger cake after 1&1/2hrs. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 mins then turn out and place on a cooling tray.

Once the cake has cooled down you can finish it off by adding the marzipan top.
The best way to do this is to use a kitchen blow torch, I  however do not have one of these. Every year when I make my simnel cake I decide to buy one, but then I never do, so I am forced to use a grill.
Roll out the marzipan, I have used yellow marzipan here, but the natural is just as good. I used spacers to get the marzipan to a depth of 1/4". I then used the cake tin to cut out a circle that would fit on top of the cake.
Heat up the marmalade or apricot preserve in a pan and then brush a little on top of the cake (if you are using marmalade make sure you don't pick up any chunks of orange as this will give you a wobbly top!)
Then place the marzipan circle on top of cake/cakes. 

Divide the remaining marzipan and make twelve balls.

If you have a blow torch you can put the balls on top of the cake at this point, use some of the marmalade to stick them together, then toast the top of the cake with the torch.
If you are using the grill method, first toast the top of the cake, then the balls separately. then when they are cooled stick the balls on the cake. It is a matter of minutes to toast, DO NOT LOOK AWAY, or you can be guaranteed it will burn. 

I will return tomorrow (hopefully) with a downloadable cake collar and sign to make your cake even more Eastery.

ps, this is what you get when your kidlets help you out!

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