Happy Easter

Its been a while hasn’t it?

Gluten free Simnel Cake

And so a little update of the last couple of months.  Life at Cakes Towers continues, we are all still here, still alive and well and living the dream.

I may have mentioned taking a break from baking and recipe writing to try and write a book, well that is still on going. It’s no mean feat to create new recipes, write them all down, bake them and try and be creative with the photos, whilst still maintaining a full-time job, being a full-time dad and husband. Nonetheless I have written some recipes and taken some photos, the process while long, is rather fun. Trying to squeeze in time to bake cakes and bakes, in amongst the weekend taxi service and a wonderful job that takes we away across the country more often than not.

I would have it no other way.

The beginning of the year started with baking around 4 or 5 bakes a weekend and trying to photo them whilst there was still plenty of natural light. I quickly learnt that once the early winter nights had drawn in, the kitchen light was not a great replacement and neither was the use a flash or trying to set up a light studio with a standard lamp! And don’t get me started on overcast days! But I battled on and I am proud of the results; I still need a few ideas and so baking seems to have slowed down a bit this past month as I am in need of some cakespiration.

I have also taken on board the role of Group Organiser for our local Coeliac UK support group.  A role I felt I needed to take on, as otherwise the group would have folded. Something I felt I could do, there are so many people diagnosed with Coeliac Disease that seem to have little or no support once they are diagnosed, it was the least I could do. There is I feel, some way to go to make the group more supportive rather than just a couple of large meetings per year. But once we get this year out of the way, we (the grand ‘we’ of the committee) can start to plan something a little more supportive to those that need it.

And so a quick recipe to tie you over for the approaching  Easter Holidays.

pre heat the oven to gas 3, 150c, 140c fan and line the base of a loose based 20cm cake tin.

350g gluten free self raising flour

250g butter

1 teaspoon of mixed spice

100g caster sugar

80g light brown sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

400g dried fruit (washed glacé cherries halves, raisins, sultanas)

2 tablespoons Apricot Jam

300g ready to roll marzipan

Thought I would shake things up a bit and use the rubbed-in method for this one! I used a food processor to blitz the flour, spice and butter together to form the ‘breadcrumbs’. A couple of quick pulses and we are done, then add the sugars and blitz again to combine.

Take a hand full of the dried mix and sprinkle over the dried fruit and mix so that each piece of fruit is covered – this should help to keep the fruit suspended in the cake and it won’t sink.

Pour the dried flour/breadcrumb mix into a large enough mixing bowl, make a well in the middle, then pour in the eggs and using a spoon, combine the mix to form a sticky cake dough. Stir in the dried fruit to mix and ensure an even distribution.  There should be no need to over mix this, just enough to combine the ingredients.

Take half of the Marzipan and roll this out to form a disc the same size as the inside of the cake tin.

Tip half of the cake mix into the cake tin and smooth out, then place the Marzipan disc on top, then finish with the remaining cake batter, smooth the surface and place in the oven to bake for about 75 – 90 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to fully cool before removing the cake from the tin.

Brush the surface of the cake with the apricot jam.

Roll out the remaining Marzipan into a disc to cover the cake at around 3mm thick. Place on top of the apricot jam and smooth the surface.

If you want to create the traditional glaze, place the cake under a very hot grill and allow the heat to tinge the Marzipan – not burn it, so keep you eyes on it! You could use one of the many hand held cooks blow torches that are available.

Decorate as you see fit, I went a little left-field and just decorated with chocolate mini eggs…

Happy Easter to each and every one of you. 😀💐


Gluten Free Simnel Cupcakes

Marzipan seems to be the latest theme for the recipes! And that can only be  a good thing.

These very simple flavoursome and moist cupcakes are very quick and easy to make.  The inclusion of cream cheese is a little departure for me, but it really works a treat. Plus I had some in the fridge so wondered what else I can do with it….

This makes 12 lovely cupcakes, so line your cupcake tin with cupcake cases and pre-heat the oven to Gas 3/ 160c.

Weigh out;

  • 90g soft butter
  • 60g full fat cream cheese
  • 130g light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 150g gluten free self raising flour
  • 200g mixed dried fruit
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 250g marzipan – rolled out and cut into 24 x 6cm rounds, to about 4mm thick.
  • Mini Eggs to decorate

Using a hand-held electric whisk, whisk the butter, cream cheese and sugar until fully combined. Then add in the eggs, one at a time to ensure they are mixed in well. Then lightly toss the dried fruit and the mixed spice together, before adding it to the egg mix and stirring it all together.

Then half fill the cupcakes cases with the batter, place a round of marzipan onto this, then top up with the remainder of the batter.

Cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Once cooked, placed the remaining marzipan rounds on top of the cooked cupcakes and allow to then cool, before removing from the tin onto a wire rack.

Once cooled you may wish to lightly singe the edges of the marzipan with a hand-held bakers blow torch to give a bit of colour. But please do take care not to burn anything – including you!

To finish, lightly push into the centre a mini egg.



Gluten Free Easter Simnel Cake

Its Easter time! And I love Easter.

New beginnings, fresh mornings and newly flowering bulbs.  The fresh smell of spring, the lighter evenings and the promise of brighter times ahead. And of course chocolate…..

Our Easter Sunday should begin with an Easter Egg Hunt in the garden, all being well and weather permitting. I will hide the eggs around the garden, drawing myself a little map as to where I have hidden the eggs! (I’ve such a bad memory – that and Noah found a loose egg the other month, having been in the garden for nearly a year!!) Then let the children free…

Failing that I’ll be doing the hunt in the house! Which I’m sure will be just as fun. For the sake of clarity, they’ll be Cadbury Easter Eggs – of varying sizes…I’m sure we’ll have to make sure that each of the children find the same amount of eggs though. All in the name of fairness and equality.

This year Easter Sunday will be spent as usual with the family and this year some extras of the slightly more extended family. A house full of family, and with any luck I’ll be doing what I love best – the cooking.

But oddly enough I have only recently found something new for Easter, the gluten free Simnel Cake. Which is a bit of a surprise really, considering my/our love of all things marzipan!

Last year I baked a lovely Nordic Ware Bundt Easter Simnel Cake, this year I have decided to make smaller, more individual ones, using my Lakeland Mini Cake tray.

Gluten Free Easter Simnel Cake

Pre-heat the oven to Gas 1 or 140c and lightly grease the inside of the cake tins.  You’ll need the following;

180g soft butter

150g light brown sugar

3 eggs

160g Dove Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour

1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice

400g dried fruit – I used 200g sultana, 150g raisins and 50g chopped glace cherries

zest only of 1 orange (optional)

300g ready to use marzipan

apricot jam for brushing the marzipan onto the finished, cooled cakes.

Firstly cream the soft butter and sugar until soft and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time until fully mixed. You may need to add a bit of the gluten free flour, to stop the mix from splitting. Then mix in the rest of the flour, the spice (zest if using) and the fruit until fully combined.

Split the mix in half and then divide this into the 12 hole mini cake tin.

Take roughly a third of the marzipan, and roll out, then cut using a 6cm pastry cutter. re-rolling if required to get 12 small discs. Place one of these discs onto each of the raw mix in the cake tin, then top off,  using the other half of the gluten free simnel cake mix.

Bake slowly in the oven for 40 – 50 mins.


Leave to cool in the tin, before removing and then cool completely before finishing the cakes.

To finish the cakes, roll half of the remaining marzipan and using the same pastry cutter – this time with a frilly edge – cut out 12 circles. And with the remaining piece of marzipan roll 12 small balls of marzipan to place on top of the finished gluten free cakes. Warm the apricot jam gently in a microwave for about 20 seconds. This will make brushing easier. Brush each gluten free simnel cake with a small amount of apricot jam and place on, a disc of marzipan, repeat for the other 11 small cakes and finish with a ball of marzipan.

To get the glazed effect I used a small hand-held blow torch, but you can get a similar effect by glazing the tops of the marzipan with beaten egg and placing under a very hot grill for a couple of minutes. Take not to burn the marzipan, so keep your eye of the cakes.

Happy Easter to each and every one of you 🙂

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