I didn't do as much baking as I had hoped for Easter. This was largely due to the fact that the school term didn't end until Maundy Thursday, so rather than the usual week-either-side-of-Easter holiday, we have the 2 weeks after Easter. I'm not complaining of course - it's lovely now to have so much time after the Easter weekend - but it has meant less cake. Oh well.
I've never got round to making my own Hot Cross Buns, but we have enjoyed plenty of bought ones. Halved, hot from the toaster and slathered in butter... sometimes with Marmite too. Although everyone who've ever seen me spread Marmite (or even Bovril) on a Hot Cross Bun thinks I'm some kind of madwoman. But it's nice, trust me!
The one thing I did manage to bake was a Simnel Cake. I don't use a 'proper' Simnel Cake recipe, but instead make Nigella's Marzipan Fruit Cake from the recipe in How to be a Domestic Goddess. Instead of the traditional layer of marzipan in the middle of the cake, this recipe calls for a block of marzipan to be cubed, then frozen overnight before being stirred into the uncooked cake mix. This means that there are nuggets of marzipan throughout the cake - as well as the layer, plus 'apostles' (just 11 - Judas doesn't get one), I put on the top.
Looking at the finished cake I think I should have made the effort to make my own marzipan. The pack I purchased, labelled 'Golden Marzipan' should perhaps have been renamed 'Scarily Vivid Yellow Marzipan'... although maybe that might not have made it a best-seller. Our attempts to burnish the marzipan topping using our kitchen blow-torch nearly ended in disaster (Rob lost all the hairs on the back of one hand, and I consider myself lucky to still have my eyebrows...) But, it's the taste that counts, no? And this cake tastes good.
It's a very fruity cake, made with glace cherries, sultanas and, slightly unusually, dried pears. These give the cake a wonderful fudgy graininess and help keep it moist, even when accidentally overcooked.
I think I left it in the oven for 10 minutes too long, but in my defence it was very hard to test its 'doneness' as inserting a skewer without hitting some gungy marzipan was impossible. However, it was far from ruined as the marzipan and fruit kept it pleasantly squishy.
The recipe can be found here, on the Nibb'lous website. I didn't change the recipe much, although I don't keep white rum in the house so ended up soaking the dried fruit in medium sherry, with a splash of rum flavouring and some extra orange-flower water (not, incidentally, an essential addition to the cake).
I hope you all had a very Happy Easter.