A guilt free Simnel Cake at Easter

Simnel Cake doesn’t need to be a sinful cake

So, Easter is round the corner and chocolate bunnies and hot cross buns are popping up all over the shops. For those of us that are health conscious types, Easter can still be fun, indulgent and healthy! Great news I hear you say but how…..?

Lets talk about cake – the traditional Easter simnel cake to be more precise. If you’ve ever eaten a simnel cake you will recognise its similarity to the traditional Christmas cake, filled with the same main ingredients, dried fruits, sugar, marzipan and more marzipan… but how can that possibly be made healthy? Read on to find out.

Real marzipan should really be made of 2 ingredients, almonds and sugar. The amount of sugar depends on the grade of marzipan. The highest quality at 90:10, marzipan, with merely 10% extra sugar added. But even shop bought marzipan at this quality will no doubt have fillers and other un necessary culprits in there.

So firstly, here is a recipe to make your own marzipan – without the sugar. Then you can use it in your simnel cake recipe hey presto, you’ll not only be able to have a second slice but also will be able to sleep soundly at night, guilt free.

How to make Raw Marzipan

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Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour

4 to 5 tbsp Canadian maple syrup

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract or pure almond extract

Method:

  1. Process the almond flour to make it smoother if it’s slightly grainy
  2. Add the maple syrup and the vanilla / almond extract and knead with your hands until you have a firm sticky dough.

So, once when the marzipan has been made, here are the rest of the ingredients to make a truly delicious, vegan and gluten free Simnel Cake.

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Ingredients:

50g blueberries

150g raisins or cranberries

50g sultanas or dried apricots

2 tsp mixed spice

500g home made marzipan

50g dairy-free sunflower margarine

50g dark muscovado sugar

3 tbsp marmalade or low sugar jam

1 banana

100g gram (chickpea) flour

50g ground almonds

2 tsp gluten-free baking powder

100ml apple juice

1 tbsp apricot jam

Icing sugar, for dusting, (optional)

Method:

1 Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark 1. Line a 18cm-diameter tin with baking parchment.

2 Place the blueberries in a small bowl with dried fruits and mixed spice. Stir to coat all the fruit in the spice. Roll out the marzipan to a 2–3mm thick sheet.

3.Place your baking tin on the marzipan and use it as a template to cut two circles.

4.In a mixing bowl, cream together the margarine, sugar and marmalade.

5.Mash in the banana gradually

6. Stir in the gram flour, ground almonds and baking powder.

7.Add the spiced fruit mix and apple juice and stir until everything is well combined.

8.Scoop half of the mixture into the tin and place one of the marzipan circles on top.

9. Spread the rest of the mixture on top of the marzipan and spread it evenly with a spatula

10.Cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes until the cake is browned – (check with a skewer that it comes out clean)

11.Cool in the tin.

12. Brush with the jam and top with the second marzipan circle. Decorate with extra marzipan as desired, in 11 balls as per the tradition or however your heart desires!