The traditional simnel cake is a round cake with eleven marzipan balls to represent Jesus' apostles. That's ideal if you want to make it with your kids and start a discussion about the Easter story, but sometimes you just want a loaf cake that you can slice neatly and pop into a lunchbox. So this year, I decided to try making the traditional simnel cake mixture in a different format. It's just as tasty, and a bit more convenient. The recipe below makes two loaves, and it freezes perfectly, so you can eat one and freeze the other for a couple of weeks.
Simnel Cake Bars
Makes two loaves
225g (8oz/2 US sticks) butter
225g/8oz/1cup soft brown sugar
225g/8oz/1¾cups plain flour
2tsp mixed spice
140g/3oz/1cup candied peel
110g/4oz/¾cup glace cherries (quartered)
- Grease and line an two 2lb loaf tins - or cheat like I do, and use non-stick tins.
- Preheat the oven to 140°C (285°F).
- Take half of the marzipan, knead until soft enough to work, and roll out into two rectangles to match the dimensions of your loaf tins.
- Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs and beat until thoroughly combined (a whisk works better than a spoon).
- Fold in the flour and mixed spice.
- Stir in the dried fruits and mix thoroughly.
- Split half of the cake mix between the two tins, and spread with a spatula to fill in the corners. Lay one marzipan rectangle in each tin on top of the cake mixture, press down lightly, and add the remaining mixture on top. Smooth the surface with a spatula.
- Bake for an hour (or until risen and firm), then transfer to a cooling tray to cool.
- Use the remaining marzipan to make another two rectangles for the top.
- (Optional) Grill the top of the cake at a medium heat until the marzipan begins to brown (it will bubble, and then start to go brown very fast).