Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Simnel Cake, gluten free, egg free, dairy free

Chicks, a missing disciple and a very yummy cake

Where normally there is some witty prose, a mildly interesting anecdote or something so random you genuinely worry that I have early-onset Alzheimers; today there is nothing.

Inspiration has gone AWOL.  

It has sloped off with that other rotter, Judas, and is nowhere to be seen.

I could inflict some stream of consciousness, unedited blather on you but I still have some pride intact.

So I'm just going to hand you over to my Simnel Cake, she will take it from here.

Happy Easter!

Simnel Cake
I first saw a Simnel cake at my Mother-in-Law's house.  She does Easter in a big way and there are meringue nests a go-go, Easter egg hunts and Simnel Cake.  She explained to me about Judas not being allowed on the cake and I found it very funny to remove other disciples from her cake when her back was turned.  She did not find it quite so funny.  My trouble is that I always realise too late that no-one is laughing with me...

For all versions:
85g dried cranberries
250g raisins

250g sultanas
1½ tsps mixed spice
½ tsp vanilla extract or a squidge of vanilla bean paste
200g 
dairy free spread
200g sugar (dark muscovado if feeling lavish)
90ml brandy/port/rum (or apple juice) plus extra for soaking if you wish
approx 60ml / 4-5 tbsps Rice milk/milk

Gluten free
200g Doves Farm Gluten Free flour

1 tsp gluten free baking powder
¼ tsp xanthan gum

Egg free
4 heaped tsps Orgran 'no egg' egg replacer mixed with 8 tbsps rice milk
2 tbsps linseeds (either whole or ground)
¼ tsp xanthan gum

With eggs
Use 3 eggs

With wheat flour:
Use 200g wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder

For the icing:
250g yellow fondant icing
Icing sugar
apricot jam or marmalade
Pretty ribbon and kitsch chicks to decorate

  • Grease and line a round, 16cm cake tin with baking parchment. Heat the oven to 160 degrees celsius / Gas 4
  • Weigh out all the dried fruit and place it into a bowl.  If you like, add about 6 tbsps of rum/brandy/whatever to soften it all up and create a lovely smell in the kitchen.  Or you can skip this step if you’re of a more sober nature...
  • Mix the egg replacing ingredients (if using) with the rice milk and set aside.  If using eggs, whisk them together and set aside
  • Put the gluten free flour, xanthan gum (or wheat flour), mixed spice and baking powder into a bowl, set aside
  • Put the dairy free spread and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Beat it together until thoroughly mixed and slightly paler in colour
  • Add about a quarter of the eggs or the 'no egg' mix to the bowl, and sieve in about a quarter of the flour mix. Gently mix together until combined. Repeat the process until all the eggs or 'no egg' and flour has been incorporated
  • Add enough rice milk / milk to give a soft dropping consistency
  • Add the vanilla essence/vanilla bean paste and alcohol and stir until everything is mixed together
  • Add the dried fruit and brandy mix to the mixing bowl and stir throughly
  • Scrape into the cake tin, leaving a slight dip in the centre; the cake should rise to even itself out.  Place in the oven
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes until the cake has risen but will not be cooked in the middle.  Cover the cake with tin foil and bake for a further 20-40 minutes until cooked.  The timings are approximate; your oven might be very different to mine
  •  Leave the cake to cool in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack
  • Dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the fondant icing to a thickness of about 3mm.  Use the base of the cake tin to cut a circle that will cover the surface of the cake
  • Gently heat about 2 tbsps of apricot jam and spread a thin layer over the surface of the cake, then place the icing over the top
  • Spend a happy 10 minutes fashioning balls of icing to represent the 11 disciples (remember Judas is NOT allowed on the cake) and stick them onto the surface of the cake with a dab of jam
  • Add the ribbon and chicks et voila! Your Simnel Cake is looking marvellous
  • And if during the Easter break you see my writing ability somewhere, please send it back to me in the Midlands.  Thanks



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