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 Marzipan Cake

There was a vision of writing up some recipes based on using up the cupboards of all their festive foods. But it seems there was a) little in the way of foods left over and b) what was left went into this recipe! 😀

This recipe and bake is loosely based around a Nigella Lawson recipe for Easy Almond Cake, but I have adapted it for gluten free and a couple of additions and different methodology. Mainly because I couldn’t be bothered to get the food processor out. So I made this in the Kitchen Aid food mixer.

You’ll need a deep, lined 8” cake tin with a loose base or you can use a springform cake tin.

Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180c, 160c fan.

220g soft Marzipan – can be microwaved for about 10 seconds if required. I used a mixture of Hotel Chocolat and Niederegger Marzipan. And yes these are chocolate coated, it just adds to the taste. And yes, we had a lot of Marzipan for Christmas 😀😀 there was also a chunk of ready to use Marzipan left in a tub too.

220g  very soft butter

40g caster sugar

1 teaspoon almond essence

5 eggs

120g gluten free self raising flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

60g toasted nibbled almonds

60g icing sugar (to make into water icing when the cake has cooled and has been removed from the tin)

Extra Marzipan (and glacé cherries if you have them) to decorate

Beat the marzipan and the butter in the mixer until soft mushed. Beat in the eggs one at a time then pour in the essence.  Don’t forget to scrape the sides of he mixing bowl.

Tip in the flour and baking powder and stir in until fully combined.

Place the cake mix into the prepared cake tin, sprinkle on the toasted nibbled almonds and bake for 40 – 50 minutes. Check with an inserted skewer. If it comes out clean it’s done.

Allow to cool in the tin before removing and cooling on a rack.

Make the water icing by adding hot water to the icing sugar a tablespoon at a time until you have a smooth paste. Then using a spoon drizzle on the icing sugar and decorate with chocolate marzipan (and or glacé cherries of you have them).