Chocolate Americano Sinful Simnel

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A Simnel cake is traditionally served on the middle Sunday of Lent, it’s also traditionally a fruit cake with a layer of fruit glaze and topped with a sheet of marzipan. I told a friend at work the other day about the makings of this blog and that I’ve been working on this and previous hot cross bun post for Easter. He then asked whether I was religious or not, seeing as I was baking such a cake, to which I replied with a simple no. I’m not religious, which is why I’ve chosen to off set tradition with my chocolate and coffee version of the Simnel.

What I have saved of the original recipe, are the 11 marzipan balls that line the top of the cake. For those who haven’t seen a cake like this before, they’re a Victorian representation of the 11 apostles (minus Judas). Sometimes there are 12 which feature the Big Man himself.

I chose chocolate and coffee as the featured flavour simply because there’s not much better a combination (except for maybe orange. Hm chocolate orange) and a girl needs to get her coffee fix! Plus, it’s Easter and what is Easter without a few hundred chocolate bars? See? You can thank me later.

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chocolate americano simnel cake

PREP: 20 MINUTES| COOK: APPROX. 1 HOUR| SERVES: 12 DECENT SLICES

FOR THE CAKE

  • 1 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda
  • roughly 8 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (I used Bournville)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon of instant americano coffee (I used Nescafe Azera)
  • 1/2 cup soured cream, room temperature

1) Boil your kettle and mix the coffee powder with a tablespoon of boiling water. Set aside whilst you preheat your oven to 180C and prep a cake tin with parchment paper.

2) In the bowl of a standard mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, for about 5 minutes, then crack in the eggs. Mix to combine.

3) In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb of soda, and the cocoa powder.

4) Add the sour cream to the coffee mixture and stir well. Add this to the butter, sugar and egg mix, and stir.

5) Carefully fold in the flour mixture until all the ingredients are combined. Be careful not to overmix though.

6) Scrape the batter into your prepared tin, and smooth out. I always like to dent the middle of the batter if I’m making a large cake so the top doesn’t rise too much and you don’t end up with a mountain. Unless you want a mountain, of course.

7) Bake for 35 minutes and then check on it. My cake was still very wet in the middle so I baked mine for another 25-30 minutes but I suggest you just keep checking on it as ovens will vary.

8) Leave to cool for 10 minutes inside of the tin before removing onto a wired rack and leave to cool completely.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons of coffee powder (again, I used Nescafe Azera)
  • 1/4 cup double cream
  • 1/4 cup soured cream

1) Break the chocolate into small chunks and place in a heat proof bowl.

2) In a small saucepan, heat the double and sour cream until they are nearly boiling. Remove from heat and carefully pour this over the chocolate and leave to sit for a few minutes.

3) Stir well to combine the cream and chocolate and then stir in the coffee powder.

4) Leave somewhere cool until you are ready to use.

TOPPING

  • 1/2 a packet of ready rolled marzipan
  • cocoa powder, a lot of it. (I used Bournville)

1) Liberally dust a surface with cocoa powder.

2) Break off 11 (or 12, remember Jesus!) equal sized balls and roll around in the cocoa until fully coated.

3) Then roll out a large disc, big enough to fit snuggly around the top of your cake. It’s best if you cover your rolling pin with the powder too as you want to fully incorporate it into the marzipan. Set aside until you are ready to use.

TO ASSEMBLE

1) Once the cake has cooled, gently cut the cake into two halves. Place the bottom half on a plate, smoother it in chocolately goodness sauce, and top with the other half of the cake.

2) Coat the top of the cake with a thin layer of sauce and then place the disc of marzipan over the top to cover it. Cut off excess if you have any.

3) Dip the bottom of the marzipan balls in a little sauce to stick the almond apostles evenly around the cake. Dust with a cloud of cocoa powder and serve!

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