Celebration cakes

celebration cakes
Simnel cake, with buttercream and mini eggs

It’s Easter Sunday tomorrow which means celebration cakes of one sort or another. My last post was at Christmas, which reflects how I think things are going. Day-to-day we manage well, with room for improvement and a lot of me biting my tongue about teenagers’ eating habits, but when it comes to a special occasion things are a lot more like hard work.

Choosing celebration cakes

Typical Easter foods include simnel cake and hot cross buns, neither of which I’ve found in the Free From aisle in the supermarket. I’ve had very mixed experiences with gluten free baking but over the last few months I’ve got better with it and developed a bit of judgment, so I decided to try a gluten free simnel cake. Things snowballed from there as I had already agreed to make gluten free ginger cake for a knitting group I belong to, and when I spotted the hot cross buns that my husband had bought I couldn’t bear to think that Tamsin would be left out so found a GF hot cross bun recipe. The upshot of all this is that we now have a ton of food hanging around that Tamsin won’t make much of a dent in. I really need to get better at managing the flow of GF foods.


I used a regular simnel cake recipe, just subbing GF flour for regular. We’ve amassed a ton of white mix on prescription and it’s ideal for celebration cakes, breads, cupcakes and the mug cakes Tamsin’s quite partial to. It comes in 500g boxes which is perfect for many cake and bread recipes. Using what we had to hand it has a kind of eccentric mix of fruit in it and because I was low on marzipan and wanted to use up what I had (and because I’m terrible at decorating cakes) I put a modest disc of marzipan on the top and replaced marzipan balls with mini eggs on a blob of buttercream, also left over from recent baking. It doesn’t feature here but Tamsin made a fantastic sandwich cake recently, and had buttercream icing to spare. By the truckload. The simnel cake is lovely and is lasting well, always a bonus with GF baking.

The ginger cake is a Glutafin recipe, an old friend. If you try it don’t panic about how runny the batter is: you think the recipe can’t possibly work but it does, though it’s really really sticky on top so try to avoid turning the cake upside down (so don’t do what I did and use silicone bakeware that makes it really hard to remove small and sticky yet crumbly cakes). I made double quantities but we’re now up to our knees in ginger cake, so one will have to be frozen, probably in chunks.

The hot cross buns were an afterthought, literally, so by the time they were ready it was getting late and I didn’t finish them with the melted jam. For now they’ve gone in the freezer and will be brought out a couple at a time to be warmed through then have melted marmalade put on them. I don’t have apricot jam but neither did I have mixed peel, so subbing marmalade for jam should solve both issues at one stroke. I’m a big believer in using what you have rather than slavish adherence to recipes.


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