Simnel Cake Slice is a simple tray bake version of the traditional Simnel Cake served on Mothering Sunday and at Easter in the UK.
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 mother.
The food Gift most associated with Mothering Sunday is the Simnel Cake. A fruit cake with two layers of marzipan, one on top and one baked in the middle of the cake. The cake would be topped with eleven balls of marzipan, one for each of the disciples, excepting Judas. Simnel Cake is also often served at Easter.
Simnel Cake Slice
I thought I’d take the Simnel Cake recipe and change it up a bit, make it quicker and easier to make and serve for busy families while retaining the same delicious flavours. I’ve been making cake based tray-bakes for many years, they are simple and you can feed a lot of people quickly and easily. I also like that it’s easy to pack some in a box and freeze it, bringing it out when those visitors arrive unexpectedly!
- 175g soft butter
- 175g soft brown sugar
- 3 medium eggs
- 175g plain wholewheat flour
- 3 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 30ml milk
- 275g mixed dried fruit (I used currants and cranberries, but any combination will do)
- 50g glace cherries, halved
- grated rind of an orange
- 40g ground almonds
- 500g marzipan (almond paste)
- icing sugar
- apricot jam, fruit jelly or honey
- Heat the oven to 170C.
- Line a tray-bake or straight sided roasting tin (27.5 x 17.5 x 2.5 cm) with baking parchment.
- Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, I used my stand mixer but you can mix it with a wooden spoon or an electric hand mixer, until it is thoroughly mixed.
- Put all of the mixture into the tin and spread evenly.
- Take about 100g of marzipan and roll into 24 small balls.
- Push the balls into the mixture at even intervals, you want to aim to have one in each slice.
- Move the mixture around with a spatula to just cover the marzipan, the cake will rise and cover them but this helps.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake has risen and is evenly brown.
- Leave to cool in the tin.
- Once the cake is cool, carefully remove it from the tin and remove the baking parchment. Lay it onto a baking sheet.
- Roll out 350g of the marzipan into a rectangle the size of the cake, using the icing sugar to stop it sticking to the work surface and your rolling pin.
- Put a tbsp of apricot jam, jelly or honey into a bowl with a little water, heat in the microwave and brush all over the cake.
- Place the marzipan on the cake. Use the remaining marzipan to make decorations, I made a twisted rope which I stuck onto the cake with a little more of the jam, but you can make the traditional 11 balls or any other decoration you wish.
- Brush the top with more of the jam/jelly/honey and place under the grill or use a chef's blow torch to brown the top of the marzipan.
- Leave to cool and cut into 24 squares.