Spelt Mini Simnel Cakes (with cranberries)
I have to be honest and say that prior to making these spelt mini simnel cakes, I’d never even tried one, let alone baked one. Every Easter, I did see them pop up in my Pinterest feed, and I knew that one day I would make one.
When I decided this would be the day, I changed my mind about it being a large cake and went for mini versions instead. The main reason for this was my kids. As I’ve mentioned many times, they love all things Nutella, but turn their noses up at fruit in cakes. In this case, gotta admit that I am actually on their side.
Fruit cakes often have way too much fruit for me (I get that’s the point, but hey ho). When I make my super simple, last minute Christmas cake, I usually go for less fruit than required, and it works for me. I did the same for these spelt mini simnel cakes.
Simnel cake originates from England, goes back centuries and is steeped in tradition. For a more in-depth read, check out Love Food’s post.
The ingredients used are also very traditional, but I wanted to give my own twist. For a start, I used spelt flour, which as always, adds a nutty hint that goes so well with the fruit. I also added cranberries in place of mixed fruit or peel.
Another tradition is to put the cake under the grill quickly to give the marzipan topping a slight colour. I liked how mine looked as they were, so decided not to do that. I also used a paler marzipan (rather than a traditional yellow).
The ingredients made four fairly large cakes. Double the recipe if you’d like more. I used ready rolled out marzipan, but you can buy a block and roll it out, or even make your own.
Spelt Mini Simnel Cakes (with cranberries)
- 65g ( ¼ cup + 1 tbsp) butter
- 60g ( ¼ cup + 1 tbsp) light brown sugar (I used Demerara)
- 1 medium egg
- 60g (¼ cup + 2 tbsp) spelt flour (see notes)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- 10g (1 tbsp + 2 tsp) ground almonds
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 50g ( ¼ cup + 1 tbsp) raisins (see notes)
- 50g ( ¼ cup + 1 tbsp) cranberries (see notes)
- icing sugar (to dust)
- 1 tablespoon apricot jam (or use any you like)
- 200g (7 oz) marzipan (see notes)
- Heat the oven to 150°C fan (170°C / 350℉).
- I used ready made marzipan that had already been pre rolled out into a fairly thin thickness. Using a cutter, cut out four fairly thin circles. I used a cutter slightly smaller than my cupcake cases. Put the rest of the marzipan to one side.
- Prepare your muffin tins by greasing well, or use cake cases. A good tip: I used foil cases and they made it very easy to get the cakes out (they also don’t need greasing).
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl using an electric whisk or food processor. When it’s pale and fluffy, add the egg, then beat again until nice and smooth.
- Combine the flour, ground almonds, spices, baking powder and baking soda, then add to the egg mixture and on the lowest setting, mix just until everything has been incorporated.
- Add the milk and fold in the dried fruit.
- Spoon half the cake mixture equally among the 4 cupcake cases or muffin holes and then with a knife, smooth over the tops until they are fairly even (the mixture is very lumpy due to the fruit, so even it out the best you can).
- Press one of the prepared marzipan circles down into each one. Using the remaining batter, divide equally between the cupcakes, once more smoothing over until you are left with a fairly flat surface and where you can not see any marzipan poking through.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for around 35 minutes. When ready, the cakes will be a deep brown and an inverted skewer will come out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before carefully removing from the tin / cupcake cases.
- In the meantime, cut out four more circles from the marzipan. Gently push up the edges to make a fluted look. Take the remaining marzipan and roll it into four balls.
- When cooled, warm the jam a little, and then brush over the top of each cake.
- Place the marzipan circles on top of the cakes, and place one ball on top of each cake.
- Sprinkle with a light dusting of icing sugar. Enjoy!
- I used spelt flour, but you could do a straight swap with regular all-purpose flour if you preferred.
- I chose to use raisins and cranberries, but you could use any dried fruit you like.
- I used shop-bought, ready rolled out marzipan for convenience, but you could make your own.