Easter Simnel Cake

As it is Easter I have made a Simnel cake.  Wickipedia tells us that Simnel cakes have been known since at least the medieval time. They would be eaten on the middle Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (also known as Refreshment Sunday, Mothering Sunday, Sunday of the Five Loaves, and Simnel Sunday), when the forty day fast would be relaxed. More recently, they became a Mothering Sunday tradition, when young girls in service would make one to be taken home to their mothers on their day off. The word simnel probably derived from the Latin word simila, meaning fine, wheaten flour. Somehow the tradition moved to Easter and now Simnel cakes are representative of Easter.

Conventionally eleven marzipan balls are used to decorate the cake, with a story that the balls represent the twelve apostles, minus Judas. They used to also be decorated with flowers, but I have modernised mine to decorate with chicks and little chocolate eggs.

DSC05412

This is the recipe I used as a basis for my cake.

Easter Simnel cake

Ingredients

175g/6oz light muscavado sugar

175g/6oz butter, softened

175g/6oz self raising flour

3 large eggs

2 tbsp milk

25g/1oz ground almonds

100g/4oz sultanas

100g/4oz cherries, quartered, washed, and dried

100g/4oz dried apricots, snipped into small pieces

100g/4oz stem ginger, finely chopped

(I just used 425g of mixed fruit that I had in the cupboard, so I used dried sour cherries, cranberries, raisins, dates and apricots)

1 tsp mixed spice

2 tsp ground ginger

To top the cake

450g/1lb golden marzipan

3 tbsp apricot jam

1 egg, beaten

To decorate

little chicks, little Easter eggs, marzipan balls

Preparation method

 1. Preheat oven 160C/320F/Gas 3.

2. Grease and line the base and sides of an 20cm/8in deep, round cake tin with baking parchment.

3. Cream the butter and sugar and gradually add the eggs and milk. Fold in the flour and all the dried fruit and mix well. Place half the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.

4. Take one third of the marzipan and roll into a circle the same size as the cake tin, place the circle on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining mixture on top of the marzipan and level the surface.

5. Bake for about 1 3/4 to 2 hours or until golden brown and firm in the middle. If toward the end of the cooking time the cake is getting too brown, loosely cover with a piece of foil. Allow the cake to cool in the tin before turning onto a cooling rack.

6. When the cake is cool. Brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam. Roll out half the remaining marzipan to the size of the cake and sit it on the top. Crimp the edges of the marzipan. Make 11 even sized balls from the remaining marzipan and arrange around the edge.

7. Brush with beaten egg and glaze under a hot grill for about 5 minutes, turning the cake round so it browns evenly, so the marzipan is tinged brown all over. (You can also do this with a blow torch if preferred).

8. Decorate as required, I used little chicks and chocolate eggs

30 mins to 1 hour preparation time

1 to 2 hours cooking time

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Mary Berry From Saturday Kitchen

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4 Comments »

  1. Nikitaland said

    I have never heard of a Simnel cake before, but it sounds delicious!

  2. noctiluna said

    Lovely cake. There are so many English traditions that I miss over here – Simnel cake, hot cross buns, May poles, and mince pies to mention a few. This entry put a wistful smile on my face. Thanks!

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