This is an odd cake to make, but well worth the effort. Very rich, but different as it has no leavening except for that created by beating the batter.
You can substitute raisins for the currants, but currants do have a distinctive flavor which I prefer over raisins.
How to Make Simnel Cake
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan. Line with waxed paper, flattening out all the wrinkles as best you can. It doesn't have to look great, just flat (you can use parchment paper if you prefer, but waxed paper is cheaper).
- Sift flour together with salt and set aside. Dust grated citrus peel and currants in some additional flour and set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, beating after each addition. Next, add the flour and salt mixture in three parts, beating as you go. Finally, add the citrus peel and currants, mixing until fully incorporated.
- Pour half the batter into the greased and lined pan; spread into corners, creating a level surface. Add the almond paste (marzipan) in an even layer, then add the remaining batter evenly on top of that. It doesn't have to be precise--"good enough" is good enough.
- Bake at 300 degrees F. for 1 hour (probably longer--I think I cooked mine for close to an hour and a half...but my oven then ran slow). Test for doneness with toothpick or cake tester; cake will be moist like a brownie (because of the layer of paste, the pick will likely come out gooey...you will have to use your best judgement regarding doneness. You know whether your oven runs hot or cool, so judge accordingly). The top should be a deep golden (or medium tan) color.
Cool in pan until completely room temperature. To serve, you can leave in pan or turn onto a platter. Cut into 18 small pieces as cake is very rich. No need to frost (although tradition suggests a light dusting of powdered sugar, sometimes in the shape of a cross if the cake is made in individual serving sizes).
- *CITRUS PEEL NOTE:
The recipe card did not indicate a ratio of lemon peel to orange peel. I think I used a 3:3 ratio of lemons to oranges (as in, the peel of three lemons and the peel of three oranges, but because lemons are smaller than oranges, you get less peel, so I think it works out more like 2:3 lemon peel to orange peel by volume).
You can use dried, of course, but I have not tried it (if you do, remember to reduce by half or 2/3 the amount...so, I think that means you would use 3 tablespoons of dried peel instead of 2/3 cup of fresh...maybe) (fyi, math was not my strongest subject! Take my advice at your own risk!).