This Easter I made a simnel cake and rather than bake the simple marzipan fruit cake, I had a go at expert baker Fiona Cairns’ recipe in the Easter edition of Waitrose Kitchen. It’s a pistachio and orange blossom variant and I make no apologies for how fancy it sounds, it’s delicious.
Parting with £4 for orange blossom water was a little painful and midway through baking I realised I’d accidentally used all my pistachios in the marzipan, so had to cycle off and buy a second bag at £2.50 for 100g. In short, it’s not cheap, especially if you go all Waitrose on your ingredients. But, the basic premise of making marzipan with pistachios is a real treat and the cake itself is moist, fruity and dense with interesting bits and bobs – Italian chopped peel, glace cherries, sultanas and spices.
Fiona recommends 150g of glace cherries, rinsed, dried and halved, but I used 200g, because I love them. I also accidentally doubled the amount of roasted, ground pistachio in the icing, but I guess that just made it extra green and nutty.
A note on preparing the pistachios: Fiona says to blanch them in boiling water then rinse under cold water and leave to dry for 15 minutes before rubbing in a clean tea towel to remove the skins. Well, those skins are a real pain, so make sure you give them a good minute in the boiling water and if you can be fussed, the best way of peeling the skins is to pinch them off individually.
The recipe says to bake the cake for 1 hour 45 to 2 hours, but I found that mine didn’t need a minute over 1 hour 45. Any longer and it would have been overdone, so if you do bake the cake, check it after 1 hour 40.
Finally, the orange flower water sounds lovely, but the flavour is very subtle. When I bake this cake again I will probably zest two oranges, rather than one to pep up that orange flavour.
Here’s the link to the recipe in case you fancy having a go…