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A recipe for vegan simnel cake: A delicious, easy to make Easter treat

I've been meaning to make a simnel cake for Easter for years. Easter holds no significance for me as a festival, but I love food traditions of all kinds, especially ones that go back many years. There's something that I find so appealing about making the same dish that people across the world, or across the centuries, made too. 

The simnel cake, it's said, is served in the UK and Ireland, where the balls of marzipan each represent one of the apostles minus Judas. Serving them goes back to medieval times, apparently, and were given by women working as servants to their mothers when they returned home for their day off for Easter.

I've seen the simnel cake described as like a lighter fruit cake. I've never had one before - they're not normally vegan! - so this is my best guess on what one should taste like.

Because we've known each other for so long, I have a confession to make. This is not the first simnel cake I've tried to bake. The first I made one day before this one, and it was a total and unmitigated disaster.  It wept fat from the bottom of the tin, and didn't set at all. It remained a weird, sweet, wet pudding and couldn't be salvaged. With gritted teeth, I sent it to meet its end in the bin. (Yes, it was that bad. I never throw away cake if I can possibly avoid it.)

I present to you instead my second attempt at a simnel cake, and this one actually worked. The recipe for this miracle is below.

Ingredients for cake
300g sultanas
50mls rum (optional)
100ml oil
170g light muscovado sugar
200mls vegan milk of your choice (I used soy)
1 and a half tsp mixed spice
100g marzipan, chopped into chunks
75g glace cherries, chopped into halves or quarters
50g mixed peel
One carrot (100g or so) grated
275g self raising flour
20g chickpea flour
1tsp baking powder

Ingredients for decoration
200g of marzipan
A tablespoon or two of marmalade or apricot jam

How you do it

  1. If you're of a mind to, soak the sultanas in the 50mls of rum for a couple of hours. If you're not so minded, skip on to the next step.
  2. Prehead oven to 150C.
  3. Whisk the sugar, milk and oil together to get rid of any lumps.
  4. Add in the rest of the ingredients one at a time, stirring thoroughly as you go.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased 10-inch springform cake pan, smooth down the top, and put in the oven.
  6. Leave to cook for 1 and a half hours (you can turn the oven off for the last 10 minutes of cooking).
  7. Leave the cake to cool thoroughly.
  8. Roll out the marzipan to a thickness of around 3mm, and cut out a circle the same size as your cake tin (you can use the tin as a template).
  9. In a small cup, add one teaspoon of boiling water to the jam to make a glaze. If it's too thick to brush easily, add a little more water.
  10. Brush glaze all over the cake, then lay the marzipan circle on top.
  11. With the remaining marzipan, make 11 small balls, and add them to the top of the cake with the glaze.
  12. Optional step: If you want to, turn your grill to high, brush the tops of the balls with any remaining glaze, and pop under the fully heated grill until the top of the cake has gone a little brown.

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  1. your simnel cake looks beautiful - I too harbour ambitions of making one some day but my day has not yet arrived. So I am in admiration of yours. And am glad you got it right if it was a challenge!

  2. I am so glad you attempted it a second time as Your vegan simple cake A😋mazing . I will keep this recipe in mind, if I am ever asked to bake a vegan Easter cake in the future

  3. I'm sorry your first try couldn't be salvaged even as cake balls, but it wasn't a total loss as it spurred you on to create a second, perfect simnel cake. Truthfully, I have never heard of a simnel cake, but that knowledge gap doesn't interfere in the least with my admiration for your success.

  4. I am very impressed! More so for you going back for a second attempt. I have long been intrigued by simnel cake but haven't tried it, and was always put off by the daunting task of veganising what is traditionally not very vegan friendly. You show me it is possible and worthwhile!

  5. Oooooh thank you for this recipe! MIne's just gone in the oven :D

  6. It looks beautiful! Never had a simnel cake before either, but I like the looks of it and that it's a lighter version of a fruit cake. :-)

  7. I'm drooling! This sounds and looks amazing!!


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