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Marvellous Marzipan

April 15, 2009

Last night as I waited for my train I saw lightning in the distance and was glad it seemed to be in the opposite direction to my house. I was wrong. As I walked the five minute walk from the train to my doorstep, the sky, which should have been black, was yellow from the constant flashes of lightning. I had my headphones on, but not even Rufus could distract me from the rumbling thunder, the brightness of the sky, or the tension in the air. I ran the last block and the heavens opened within a minute of me reaching my doorstep.

Dinner was Moroccan soup with falafels for dunking, which matched the humidity and sudden, pelting, deafening rain well. Dessert was Simnel cake, a quarter of which I have leftover from Easter. I made it to take to our family gathering on Sunday, and was really pleased, especially because it was my first attempt at a fruit cake.

Mixed fruit

For some reason I hadn’t heard of Simnel cake before this year. Delia says that “Simnel Cake was not originally baked at Easter but on Mothering Sunday as a kind of mid-Lent treat. Somehow or other it got postponed until the great feast of Easter itself.” Makes sense. The Simnel cake does seem to suit Easter very well, especially when we are already surrounded by so much chocolate (Simnel cake is full of fruit, therefore it is good for me, yes?). I think it may be a new tradition for me.

Fruit cake

I got the recipe from Del Sol (a great site – I bet the cafe is lovely too), and only changed a couple of things – I exchanged the pecans for almonds and used glace ginger instead of candied, and mixed it in with the mixed fruit before soaking it in amaretti liquer. I also decided not to do the marzipan lattice, partly because it looked too fiddly, and because I left the top til the last minute. The Easter tradition is to top the cake with eleven balls of marzipan (to represent the eleven true apostles, and sometimes with a ball in the middle to represent Jesus), but to be honest I thought it looked a bit naff. As Kathryn Flett recently pointed out, that “what with being yellow and round, ‘Jesus’ and his ‘disciples’ tend to be reinterpreted as chickens.” Nuff said.

Marzipan star

I think I like my way better. I cut a star out of the marzipan to reveal the icing underneath. I was so happy with the end result – Tasty and Pretty! Yay! I didn’t have any cream, so just used egg for the glaze.

Simnel cake

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of putting marzipan inside a cake before. I have some left over so next I think I’m going to try these.

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