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Simnel cake

Categories: Friday feeling

A gluten and wheat-free take on the traditional Easter fruit cake

There is a small, subtle irony in the idea of a gluten and wheat-free simnel cake. Simnel is thought to refer to the Latin word simila, meaning fine, wheaten flour. A wheat and gluten-free simnel cake, therefore, seems by definition a contradiction in terms.

Except, of course, that it’s not. It’s a fruit cake, made in the style and manner of a simnel cake, but using flour that doesn’t contain gluten, just like all of The Free From Bakehouse’s baked goods. “With citrus flavours of orange and lemon, alongside almond and apricot, this light fruit cake contains the traditional centre of marzipan, topped with toasted marzipan,” explains founder Caroline Aherne.

They are individually sized, so you can sample a simnel without spending substantial sums: containing plenty of dried fruit and marzipan, a whole simnel cake can prove pricy. This has led to some modifications, Caroline continues. “We don't have the traditional marzipan balls to represent the apostles, but the indents in the marzipan cover lend themselves to this.”

Seat-shaped furrows
Frankly, we can’t help but feel the small, seat-shaped furrows are far more suggestive of people than marzipan balls could be. It looks like the 12 disciples have been perching there, on the edge of the cake, before walking off. Perhaps the spirit of the risen Jesus led them away.

Smooth and slightly golden, the marzipan top has been caramelised into sweetness. Upon first bite, the creamy surface buckles into jammy apricots, and a soft, fruity sponge of citrus. Irony has never tasted so good.