Easter is more relaxed than Christmas, and I have many fond childhood memories of it. My favourite is of Jim baking this Simnel Cake.
It is a light fruit cake with a disc of almond paste baked into the centre, decorated with almond paste on top. The surprise is the almond in the centre and it is delicious and moist. This recipe makes an 8” round cake, which lasts for a few weeks.
New season Irish lamb is in the shops now and is very tasty. The best way to cook it is medium to well done, served with simple ingredients. The rack of lamb is a very nice cut and easy to cook, your butcher will be happy to prepare the rack.
8oz Castor Sugar
8oz Plain Flour
2lb Mixed Dried Fruit, including peel and cherries
3tsp Ground Mixed Spice
Rind of 1 Lemon
Rind of 1 Orange
1 packet Marzipan
12oz Ground Almonds
6oz Caster Sugar
6oz Icing Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
1 Egg Yolks
2 drops Almond Essence
To make the almond paste, mix together the almonds and sugar, make a well in the centre and add in the eggs and almond essence, mould into a stiff paste.
To make the cake, mix the sugar and butter together until soft & creamy, beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a spoon of flour after each egg. Fold in the remaining flour and spice, and stir in the fruit and rinds. Grease and line an 8” round cake tin with several layers of greaseproof, fold in half of the mixture into the tin. Roll out an 8” circle of marzipan and drop into the tin, then fold in the rest of the cake mixture, smooth it out. Place in a preheated oven 140° for about 3½ hours
After 2 hours turn it around and cover the top with a disc of brown paper so as not to get too brown. The cake is cooked when it springs back up after you press it with your finger, leave to cool in the tin for a few hours then pour over the whiskey. When the cake is cold, roll out the freshly made almond paste to an 8” circle, brush the top of the cake with apple jelly, place the almond paste on top and brush with some egg yolk and place the cake under the grill for about 5 – 10 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Tie a yellow ribbon around it to decorate.
Rack of Lamb with a Herb Crust
Rack of Lamb 6 to 8 bones, allow about 2 – 3 chops per person
4oz White Bread Crumbs
Fresh Basil, Parsley, Coriander & Mint
1tbsp. English Mustard
For the Marinade:
The evening before you intend cooking the lamb place it in a bowl with some olive oil, garlic, black pepper and rosemary and leave it to marinade overnight.
To cook it, blend the breadcrumbs with the herbs in a food processor. Spread the mustard over the lamb, and press on the herbed crumb. Place on a roasting tin, put into a hot oven for 15 to 25 minutes per lb depending on how well done you like it.