It is thought that the name “Simnel” comes from the Roman word “similia”, meaning fine flour. Simple Simnel bread has been made in England since as far back as the 11th century and has been described as being boiled as well as baked. It’s around the 17th century though that more elaborate versions of Simnel cakes started turning up in association with spring and Easter.
At Easter it’s topped with 11 marzipan balls to represent the 11 apostles of Christ, minus Judas. This recipe takes the flavours of a Simnel cake and puts them into a chocolate brownie.
- 100g dried mixed fruits
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1⁄2 tsp nutmeg
- 1⁄2 tsp sea salt
- 50ml brandy (or orange juice)
- 110g butter (unsalted)
- 260g dark muscovado sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling over the top
- 75g golden syrup
- 300g dark chocolate
- 4 medium free-range eggs
- 80g plain white flour
- 75g ready-to-roll marzipan
1 Soak the fruits in the brandy or orange juice with the spices and salt over night.
2 Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 3.
3 In a large saucepan, melt the butter, dark muscovado and syrup until smooth and glossy.
4 Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate, mixing until all the chocolate has fully melted.
5 Whisk the eggs lightly and add to the chocolate mixture stirring well. Now add the soaked fruits and flour.
6 Pour in to a parchment paper-lined baking tin, 18 x 28 x 3cm deep.
7 Grate the marzipan over the top of the brownie and finish with some dark muscovado sprinkled over the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes until it’s just beginning to set but is still soft in the middle.
8 Remove from the oven, cool completely then chill in the fridge overnight.
9 Turn out of the tin, peel off the paper then cut the edges from the brownie as these can become dry and over cooked.
10 Cut into squares. Serve at room temperature. The brownies will keep for 7 days in an airtight container.
Recipe by Paul Young for Baking Mad