Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Simnel Cupcakes

These little simnel cupcakes are perfect for an Easter treat.  With their double layer of marzipan and mixed dried fruit encased in a flavoursome lemony sponge, these little bakes are incredibly delicious.
Simnel Cupcakes, perfect for an Easter celebration.

Simnel cakes have been made for centuries around Easter time here in the UK.  Wikipedia tells us that in relatively recent times they were made for the middle Sunday of Lent when the fast would be relaxed and daughters working in service would be granted the day off to visit their mother (mothering Sunday) often having made a simnel cake to take with them.   It's unclear where the word 'simnel' comes from but Wikipedia suggests that it is derived from the latin 'similia'  meaning 'fine flour'. 
As we know, Simnel cake is a delicious light fruit cake containing two layers of marzipan; one hidden within the batter and baked in the cake, and the other adorning the top.  They are often decorated with 11 marzipan balls which are said to represent the disciples with the exclusion of Judas.  Sometimes a twelfth larger ball is placed in the centre to represent Jesus.   

Simnel Cupcakes, containing a layer of marzipan in the cetre and decorated with more marzipan.

Being a household of just 8 legs, 4 of which belong to our friendly feline friend, Mr E & I didn't fancy making a large cake for it to linger and potentially spoil so we decided to quickly whip up a small batch of simnel cupcakes.  Being cupcake sized means this bake clearly spends far less time in the oven than a traditional simnel cake, but it also means that you can make as many as you like; be it just a few for your own household or several to share with family and friends at an Easter celebration.  

These Simnel Cupcakes are easy to make using the creaming in method.

These little cakes are quick and easy to make, being made using the creaming in method.  I added a generous amount of lemon yoghurt (I used French set) to the mixture which not only supported the lemon flavour of the zest, but also added extra moisture to the mini cakes.   The dried fruit mixture I used included glace cherries, pineapple, cranberries and apricots which worked beautifully alongside the usual sultanas, raisins, currants and candied peel.   Though if you fancy making these, do use whatever dried fruit you have to hand. 
To decorate our simnel cupcakes, I decided to use the scalloped edge of our biscuit cutters rather than a neat circle, I thought they looked prettier this way.  To keep things simple I applied just one marzipan ball to the top of the cupcake, though if you prefer each cake could still be decorated with the traditional 11 balls by just making each one a wee bit smaller and positioning them around the edge.

Packed with fruit and a layer of marzipan, these simnel cupcakes are delicious
     The lemon flavour gave the bake an extra freshness and worked well with the marzipan.  Mr E, who is sadly marzipan-phobic, echoed this by having a second cupcake after demolishing the first!
  Whether you choose to call these little bakes simnel cupcakes, simnel mini cakes or simnel cakelets, they are certainly perfect for an Easter treat.  With their double layer of marzipan and mixed fruit encased in a flavoursome lemony sponge, these little dudes are incredibly delicious.


So let's get to it and bake! 


Simnel Cupcakes.     Yum

Whether you call them simnel cupcakes, simnel mini cakes, or simnel cakelets these little bakes are a delicious treat.
Yield: 8 cupcakes
Serves: 8
Difficulty: Easy 
Time: hands on time 25 minutes; plus 20 - 25 minutes bake time; cooling time. 
Freezable: Yes, undecorated  
Storage: Airtight container for 3 or 4 days.

You will need:

Electric Hand Held Beater or Wooden Spoon
Sieve
Spatula or large Metal Spoon
Muffin Sized Paper Cases
Muffin Baking Tray
Rolling Pin
Round Biscuit Cutter 58mm (2.25")

For the sponge mixture

70g Unsalted Butter, softened
70g Soft Light Brown Sugar
1 Lemon, Zest of
1 large Egg, beaten
70g Lemon Yoghurt (or plain natural yoghurt)
100g Mixed Dried Fruits
90g SR Flour
40g Marzipan

Decoration

1 heaped tsp Apricot Jam
Icing Sugar
140g Marzipan


How to make them:

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 190c / Fan 170c / Gas 5. Place the paper cupcake cases into the muffin tray.

2.  Prepare the marzipan layer.  Divide the 50g marzipan into 8 equal pieces.  Roll each pieces into a ball between the palms of your hands.  Gently flatten the balls to make a relatively thick disc.  The discs needs to be smaller in diameter than your cupcake cases so that the marzipan is hidden within the sponge during the bake.   Set aside.

3.  Prepare the dried fruit.  Once your dried fruit is weighed break up any clumps.  If your fruit contains whole glace cherries, cut these into smaller pieces and add a teaspoon of the weighed flour.  Distribute the flour amongst the fruit (particularly the cherries) to prevent them from sticking together.

4.  Make the sponge.  Place the softened butter and sugar into a good sized bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon or electric beaters until pale and fluffy.  Add the lemon zest and beat again to combine.  Gradually add the beaten egg a little at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the yoghurt.  Add the dried mixed fruit and stir to combine.  Sieve the flour into the bowl.  Using a spatula or large metal spoon fold this in gently.

5.  Fill the cupcake cases.  Use a teaspoon to partially fill the cupcake cases so that they are about 2cm full.  Flatten the mixture in the cupcase a little.  Lay the marzipan disc on top of the batter.  Top with some more batter.  You're aiming for the cases to be half to two-thirds full.

6.  Bake.  Place the muffin tray in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes.  You may need to rotate the tray after 15 minutes of baking.   Remove the tray from the oven once the cupcakes are fully baked, with a deep golden top and a sponge which springs back when touched.  Carefully remove each cupcake from the baking tray hollow and place on a cooling tray.

7.  Meanwhile, prepare the decoration.  Place a heaped spoonful of apricot jam into a small bowl.  Add two or three drops of water to the jam and mix to loosen it.  Set aside.  Dust the work surface with a little icing sugar.  Manipulate the marzipan a little in your hands to soften it.  Place the marzipan onto the icing sugar and roll out to about 2-3mm thick, avoid getting icing sugar on the upper surface of the marzipan.  Use the biscuit cutter to cut 8 discs.  Set them aside.  With the offcuts of marzipan roll 8 small balls. Set aside.

8.  Decorate.  Once the cupcakes have fully cooled, use the back of the teaspoon to spread a little jam onto the underside of the marzipan disc.  Place the disc jam side down onto the cupcake.  Apply gentle pressure with your fingertips to secure the disc in place.  Use the back of the spoon to apply a small amount of jam to the base of the marzipan ball and affix to the centre of the cupcake.  Repeat with the remaining simnel cupcakes.



Enjoy!

Notes:

a)   Both french set and traditional yoghurt work equally well in this bake, though if using a french set I'd suggest weighing it into a cup and stirring it through to loosen before adding to the batter mixture.
b)  If you don't have a biscuit cutter to the size you need, simply use the base of a small glass as a stencil to cut around. 
c)  The cupcakes will hold 11 marzipan balls positioned traditionally around the edge by making each one fairly small.
d)  If you like, you could toast the decorated cupcakes under a pre-heated grill (or with a cook's blow torch) for a minute or two.  Though if using the grill do keep a sharp eye on them to prevent them from burning.










This post has been shared with:

Sunday Fitness & Food Linkup c0-hosted by Angela at Marathons and Motivation and Ilka at Ilka's Blog
 
Bake of the week co-hosted by Sarah at Maison Cupcake and Helen at Casa Costello.  This week is hosted by Sarah.

Treat Petite co-hosted by Kat at The Baking Explorer and Stuart at Cakeyboi, Kat hosts this month and the theme is Easter & Spring.

Cook Once Eat Twice hosted by Corina at Searching for Spice

Teatime Treats co-hosted by Janie over at The HedgeCombers and Karen at Lavender and Lovage.  This month is hosted by Janie and the theme is  Easter.
CookBlogShare Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - Food Year Linkup Life Loving Linkie The Mummy Toolbox Link up your recipe of the week Monkey and Mouse




40 comments:

  1. What a fab idea - making cupcake sized simnel cakes - much quicker and easier than the traditional large cake version! Thanks for sharing :-) Eb x

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    1. Thanks Eb :-) It makes much more sense for us to make mini ones rather than a large cake which would linger on.
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

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  2. I always like making cupcakes as they are usually easier to bake. I am making a simnel style cake tomorrow - I do love marzipan #cookblogshare

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    Replies
    1. They are generally easier aren't they, plus you can make as many or as few as you fancy. Ah, I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for your simnel cake.
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

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  3. 'm not a fan of marzipan but my family would adore these!

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    1. Nooo Sarah, how can you not like marzipan ;-) ....Mr E isn't a fan of marzipan either but he found the lemon balanced out the obvious marzipan flavour really well.
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

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  4. I think my favourite thing about your blog is the background you give at the beginning of your posts! So interesting to read about the history of these cakes. I love anything with marzipan in it and these sound really tasty. Thanks for linking up to #CookBlogShare

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    1. Aw thank you Mandy, I too like to read recipe posts with a little bit of 'blurb' before diving into the recipe.
      It seems there are quite a few of us that are partial to some marzipan ;-)
      Thanks for popping by and for hosting Mandy,
      Angela

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  5. oh how lovely and cute are these! I've never made simnel cake but i am hoping to this year. I picked up a recipe card for simnel cupcakes at the supermarket the other day as i think doing it like this would go down better with my family than one big cake. x

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    1. Thank you Rebecca :-) Ooh you definitely must make one Rebecca, if you and your family love marzipan it'll be well received. I totally agree that the individual cupcakes sized bakes are so much more suitable than a large cake.
      Thanks for popping by and commenting Rebecca,
      Angela x

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  6. These are such cute little cupcakes! I love simnel cake and made one for the first time last year but haven't ever thought to put the flavours in a cupcake. I absolutely love marzipan though and can happily eat a whole block of it without even using it in baking, but sadly my lovely husband does not share my fondness of it either. Thank you so much for joining in with #CookOnceEatTwice again.

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    Replies
    1. Hahaha, that sounds so familiar Corina :-) I had to show some self restraint with the marzipan when making my simnel cupcakes. My hubby isn't fond of marzipan either, but he happily tried one of the bakes and actually went back for a second one because he found the lemon flavour in the cakes detracted from the marzipan nicely.
      Thanks for popping by and of course for hosting,
      Angela x

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  7. I love simnel cake and doing it in cup cake form is a really good idea. I love the lemon and fruit mixture - think I will be attempting these :) #YumTum

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    Replies
    1. Thank Sara, we thoroughly enjoyed them. Do let me know how you get on if you give them a try.
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

      Delete
  8. I love the hidden layer in these, making them even more delicious! I need to make some cupcakes soon so these look perfect! and a great Easter treat! thanks so much for linking up to #YumTum

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    1. Simnel cakes - be it a large one or cupcake size - are just perfect for that hidden layer of marzipan yumminess. Do let me know how you get on if you give them a whirl Charlotte,
      Thanks for popping by and of course for commenting,
      Angela x

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  9. So adorable! I love the decoration! Thank you for entering into Treat Petite.

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  10. What a lovely idea Angela, your simnel cupcakes look so pretty. I love the idea of a hidden layer of marzipan, pinning for later x

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Sarah :-) I love Simnel cake with all of that scrummy marzipan,
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

      Delete
  11. I have a vague recollection of being told when I was little the name came from two brothers (one was called Simon and I guess the other was something like Nell or Neil) who disagreed how to make a cake and the Simnel cake was the result - your explanation probably makes more sense though.

    Loving all the marzipan in this cakes, they would definitely go down very well in my house.

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    Replies
    1. What a lovely story to share with youngsters Charlotte, I guess it's a great way to encourage youngsters to bring their different ideas together.
      Simnel cakes are fabulous with the marzipan,
      Thanks for popping by and commenting Charlotte,
      Angela x

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  12. These look and sound delicious - pinning!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Sarah, we were really pleased with how scrummy they turned out,
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

      Delete
  13. Ooh! I'd really like to try these. I love cakes with fruit in them, but am not a fan of heavy fruit cake. These sound like the perfect combination! Yummy! I hope you and your family have a lovely Easter.

    Sally @ Life Loving
    #LifeLovingLinkie

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    Replies
    1. :-) Thanks you Sally, they were really yummy and fresh tasting with the lemon zest and yoghurt.
      Happy Easter to you too Sally :-)
      Angela x

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  14. These cupcakes are beautiful! I have never had simnel cakes, so I really enjoyed reading about what they are & the ingredients in them. They sound delicious! Pinned :-) Thank you for sharing, have a Great Week!!

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    1. Ooh you definitely should try one Angela, they're scrummy!
      Hope you too have a fab week,
      Angela x

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  15. These are so cute! My mum adores simnel cakes but not many of us are that keen on marzipan - these are the perfect solution!

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    1. Thank you :-) Making them as a cupcake makes it suitable to make a small batch especially if there are only a few who like marzipan,
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

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  16. Love simnel cakes, these cupcake ones look fab.

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    Replies
    1. You and me both Alison,
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

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  17. HI Angela,

    Thanks so much for joining in with #BakeoftheWeek - I love anything marzipan so the more, the better. How do you cope with a marzipan-phobic husband? ;-)

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    1. I'll second that Helen, the more the better ;-) I know, I can't understand it when folk don't care for marzipan - at least it means there's more for me ;-)
      Thanks for popping by and of course for hosting,
      Angela x

      Delete
  18. They look lovely, I am such a marzipan fan! Thanks for joining in with #BAKEoftheWEEK !

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Sarah, you'll have to join our marzipan fan club ;-)
      Thanks for popping by and of course for hosting,
      Angela x

      Delete
  19. These look great! I've never had Simnel cake, but I definitely love marzipan, a great idea to make them into cupcakes! Thanks so much for linking up to #HowtoSunday. :) x

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    1. Ooh you must change that Jenny and try some Simnel cake this Easter :-) I'm sure you'll love it if you love marzipan,
      Thanks for popping by and of course for hosting
      Angela x

      Delete
  20. mmmmm lemon yoghurt....stop making me hungry !!!
    These looks super cute , as always, love your posts.
    Betty x
    The Betty Stamp

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