Next Sunday is Mothering Sunday and is also known as Simnel Sunday or Refreshment Sunday.It is also the end of Lent and the period of fasting associated with it.Traditionally a Simnel Cake was made for this day, it is rich in fruit,spices and marzipan which are forbidden during Lent. Originally a Simnel Cake was made by girls in service for their mothers, they got the day off to go and visit them and would bring a cake with them.
I always associate Simnel cake with Easter. My Gran always make it as part of a special Easter Sunday tea and we would eat it along with Hot Cross Buns and plenty of chocolate eggs. I have fond memories of spending time running around with my brothers playing on the lawn outside and coming in a magnificent tea served with beautiful china. We loved to sit down as a family and share stories from the past.
A Simnel Cake is a fruit cake with two layers of marzipan. One layer runs though the inside of the cake and the other is placed on the top of the cake and then grilled to brown it. Traditionally it is decorated with eleven balls of marzipan which represent the apostles, with the exception of Judas because he betrayed Jesus. Other decorations can be added but I prefer the traditional plain look of just the marzipan balls.
Like any fruit cake it does take a while to bake, but is worth the effort. The Simnel cake makes a perfect centre piece for Easter tea and gives the family an excuse to sit down and enjoy some time together. An egg hunt before tea is the perfect way to have some family fun and work up an appetite.
A delicate fruit cake with two layers of marzipan that is usually served at Easter
- 280 g 10oz plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 225 g 8oz caster sugar
- 225 g 8oz butter
- 4 eggs
- 110 g 4oz glace cherries
- grated rind of 1 lemon
- 225 g 8oz sultanas
- 110 g 4oz currants
- 30 g 1oz candied peel, chopped
- 340 g 12oz marzipan
- Preheat the oven to 180°C,350°F, gas mark 4.
- Grease and line a 20cm (8 inch) cake tin with baking parchment.
- Cream the butter and sugar until soft, add the lemon rind.
- Add the eggs and mix together.
- Fold in the flour, baking powder and salt to the mixture.
- Chop the cherries in half and add them with the sultanas, peel and currants to the cake mixture.
- Place half the cake mixture into the cake tin.
- Take about a third of the marzipan and roll it into a circle. Place in the cake tin on top of the cake mixture.
- Add the rest of the cake mixture on top of the marzipan, making a well in the centre so it rises evenly.
- Wrap some newspaper around the cake tin to insulate it from the heat, it can be secured with string.
- Bake in the oven for two hours then reduce the heat to 150°C 300°F gas mark 2. Bake for a another 30 minutes, until a skewer or knife placed into the centre comes out clean.
- Allow to cool.
- Put aside a small amount of the marzipan to make the balls to decorate the cake.
- Roll the rest into a circle and place on the top of the cake. You can use a little apricot jam to secure it to the top of the cake.
- Make eleven marzipan balls and place them around the edge of the cake.
- Preheat a grill and place the cake underneath it. Carefully brown the marzipan.
You might also like these Easter cupcakes I made previously which are based on Simnel Cake.