Easter Simnel Cake is a traditional fruit cake featuring a layer of marzipan inside and on top of the cake. Let me show you how to make a Simnel Cake, it makes a perfect centrepiece for your Easter table.
What is Simnel Cake?
Simnel Cake was the food gift most associated with Mothering Sunday in the UK. However, more recently it has become associated with Easter.
It is a fruit cake with two layers of marzipan, one on top and one baked in the middle of the cake. The cake is topped with eleven balls of marzipan, one for each of the disciples, except Judas.
What is Mothering Sunday?
Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Lent. It’s also known as Mothers’ Day and is celebrated in Spring in the UK. Mother’s Day is celebrated at different times of the year in other countries.
In the past it was the tradition for people to return to their ‘mother’ church, the main church or cathedral in their area, once a year and this took place in the middle of Lent.
This led to families, scattered through work, meeting up as they returned to their home area. Part of the tradition was for children returning to bring small gifts to their mothers.
How to make Easter Simnel Cake
Make the Cake
This cake is made with a simple one-bowl cake method, so put the butter, sugar flour, dried fruit, cherries, lemon zest, 3 eggs, and the mixed spice in a large bowl and beat until fully combined. You can do this by hand but a stand mixer makes the job really easy.
Add the middle layer of marzipan
Spoon half the fruit cake mixture into an 18 cm tin and top with a round of marzipan cut to fit the tin.
Add the remaining cake mixture on top of the marzipan and smooth the top.
Bake the cake for 2 hours 15 minutes until golden brown.
Check that the cake is baked by pushing a skewer into the centre of the cake. iI the skewer clean then the cake is ready. If the skewer comes out sticky put the cake back in the oven for 10 minutes and try again.
When the Easter Simnel Cake has cooled, brush with apricot jam and place another round of marzipan on top of the cake. Decorate with eleven balls of marzipan and put under a hot grill (broiler) to brown the tops of the marzipan balls.
Serve the Simnel Cake in generous slices as a dessert or as part of an Easter afternoon tea.
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How to make Easter Simnel Cake
- 175 grams soft butter
- 175 grams soft brown sugar
- 175 grams self-raising flour
- 300 grams mixed dried fruit
- 3 eggs
- 90 grams glace cherries quartered, rinsed and dried
- 1 lemon grated zest
- 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
- 500 grams marzipan
- 2 teaspoons apricot jam
- 1 egg white
- Preheat the oven to 150C.
- Grease and line an 18 cm round cake tin with baking parchment.
- Roll out 1/3 of the marzipan and using the cake tin as a guide, cut out an 18 cm circle. Set aside.
- Place the butter, sugar flour, dried fruit, cherries, lemon zest, 3 eggs and the mixed spice in a large bowl and beat until fully combined. You can do this by hand but a stand mixer makes the job really easy.
- Spoon half the mixture into the lined cake tin, top with the round of marzipan.
- Cover with the remaining cake mixture and level the surface.
- Bake for 2 hours 15 minutes or until golden brown. Check that it is baked by pushing a skewer into the centre of the cake, if it comes out sticky it's not baked, if it's clean then the cake is ready.
- If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover it with some baking parchment.
- When the cake is completely cool, warm the apricot jam and use it to brush the top of the cake.
- Roll out half the remaining marzipan to an 18 cm round and put it on top of the jam, crimping the edges into an attractive pattern. Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 balls, brush the base of each with egg white and place evenly around the edge of the cake.
- Using the remaining egg white, brush the marzipan and the marzipan balls. Then place under a hot grill until the balls are golden brown and slightly bubbling.
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