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A Ginger Simnel CupcakeLast year, I read about Simnel cake for the first time, and thought it sounded absolutely wonderful. It is filled with marzipan and a lot of lovely dried fruits and all my favourite spices—naturally I wanted to make one.

Simnel Cupcakes with Candied GingerBut Simnel cake belongs to a certain time of year. Traditionally it is served on Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, when families would come together to visit and enjoy a one-day relaxation of the Lenten fast. Today it is also commonly served on Easter itself.

Ingredients for Ginger Simnel Cupcakes Juice an orangeWell, I held off until Lent anyway, although I didn’t quite make it to Mothering Sunday.

Add the golden syrupMixing the simnel cupcake batterHowever, since we already have two birthdays in Lent (my mother’s and my brother’s, and they’re only separated by eight days), I didn’t really want to make a big layer cake. So I made cupcakes instead.

Roll out the marzipan Shaping the marzipan discsFill cups halfwayTo replicate the structure of the traditional cake, you fill each cup of the muffin tin halfway with batter, press a disc of marzipan into it, and then fill the cup the rest of the way with batter.

Place a marzipan disc in each cupcake Top with a second scoop of batterAfter the cupcakes are baked, the tops are dipped in an orange glaze. This allows you to get the look of a beautiful layered cake in an individual, hand-held potion.

Simnel Cupcakes Ready for Frosting Tap off excess icingIcing the simnel cupcakesThe clever method comes from a recipe I found on the BBC Good Food website, but I tweaked the ingredient list substantially to suit my own personal preferences.

The Fruit MixtureFor the fruits, I chose currants, sultanas, and dried apricots, and then added fresh orange zest and juice. I kept the list fairly short, because I don’t like cluttering up batters with a lot of different fruits just because I can. I prefer to have a few that I can actually taste in the finished product.

Top with candied gingerWith that said, I did use all of the “Big Four” of baking spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. But I focused mainly on the ginger, stirring some chopped crystallized ginger into the batter and scattering a few cubes on top as décor. I had wanted to use stem ginger in syrup as well, for I saw many recipes that called for it, but apparently it is not as common here as it is over in England. I had to settle for a jar of ginger preserve instead, which is sort of like ginger marmalade and quite luscious.

Simnel Cupcakes for Mothering SundayI think these cupcakes are my favourite recipe I’ve made so far this year. They are gorgeous to look at and taste exquisite. Spicy and rich with fruit and the nutty sweetness of marzipan, they also have a certain delicacy and lightness that is quite irresistible. I wonder, would it be wrong to have them on both Mothering Sunday and Easter?

spice-trail-badge-longThe theme for this month’s Spice Trail, hosted by Vanesther of Bangers and Mash, is ginger, so I’m submitting them to that challenge, as well as the Biscuit Barrel Challenge hosted by Laura of I’d Much Rather Bake Than . . .

Biscuit Barrel Challenge logoThe theme was spring, and these Simnel Cupcakes, with their association to this time of year, seem perfect for it.

Bloggers Around the World LogoFinally, I am submitting it to the Bloggers Around the World challenge hosted by Chris of Cooking Around the World. This month the theme country was Great Britain.

Simenl Cupcake Studded with Dried Fruit and MarzipanGinger Simnel Cupcakes

Adapted from numerous BBC Good Food recipes


For the cake:
Juice and zest of 1 orange
75 g. sultanas
75 g. currants
75 g. dried apricots, finely diced
300 g. (2 cups) all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
175 g. (¾ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
100 g. (½ cup) granulated sugar
75 g. (⅓ cup) dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons golden syrup
¼ cup whole milk
50 g. ginger preserve
2 eggs
25 g. crystallized ginger, finely diced, plus more for garnish
250 g. marzipan
For the icing:
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
3-4 tablespoons orange juice


  1. Line 18 muffin cups with paper cases. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine the sultanas, currants, and dried apricots in a small bowl and pour over the juice and zest of the orange. Let stand 30 minutes. Or, if you’re in a hurry, microwave the mixture on medium power for 2 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the golden syrup, milk, and ginger preserve. Mix until smooth.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the dry ingredients.
  6. Tip in the fruit mixture and crystallized ginger. Mix until the fruit is distributed evenly throughout the batter.
  7. Divide the marzipan into 18 equal pieces. Lightly dust a surface with cornstarch and roll each ball of marzipan into a circle about 2 inches in diameter.
  8. Fill the lined muffin cups halfway with batter. Press a disc of marzipan into each cupcake. Top with enough of the remaining batter to almost reach the top of the paper liner.
  9. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out almost clean, with just a few crumbs clinging to it, about 25 minutes.
  10. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for a few minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  11. In a small bowl, whisk together the icing sugar and enough juice to make a viscous glaze.
  12. Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the glaze, tapping off the excess, and then place them back on the rack. Sprinkle a few pieces of diced crystallized ginger on the center of each cupcake before the glaze sets.

Yield:  18 cupcakes