How to make the perfect Simnel Cake

simnel cake

Follow our step by step guide to create the perfect Simnel Cake, ideal for Mothers Day and Easter.

Ingredients

For the almond paste

  • 250g/9oz caster sugar
  • 250g/9oz ground almonds
  • 2 free-range beaten eggs
  • 1 tsp almond essence

For the cake

  • 175g/6oz butter or margarine
  • 175g/6oz soft brown sugar
  • 3 free-range beaten eggs
  • 175g/6oz plain flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 350g/12oz mixed raisins, currants and sultanas
  • 55g/2oz chopped mixed peel
  • 1/2 grated lemon zest
  • 1-2 tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 free-range beaten egg for glazing

Method

  1. For the almond paste, place the sugar and ground almonds in a bowl. Add enough beaten egg and mix to a fairly soft consistency.

  2. Add the almond essence and knead for one minute until the paste is smooth and pliable.

  3. Roll out a third of the almond paste to make a circle 18cm/7in in diameter and reserve the remainder for the cake topping.

  4. Preheat oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Grease and line a 18cm/7in cake tin.

  5. For the cake, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs until well incorporated and then sift in the flour, salt and mixed spice (if using) a little at a time. Finally, add the mixed dried fruit, peel and grated lemon zest and stir into the mixture.

  6. Put half the mixture into a greased and lined 18cm/7in cake tin. Smooth the top and cover with the circle of almond paste. Add the rest of the cake mixture and smooth the top leaving a slight dip in the centre to allow for the cake to rise. Bake in the preheated oven for 1¾ hours. Test by inserting a skewer in the middle – if it comes out clean, it is ready. Once baked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack.

  7. Brush the top of the cooled cake with the apricot jam. Divide the remainder of the almond paste in half; roll out a circle to cover the top of the cake with one half and form 11 small balls with the other half.

  8. Place the circle of paste on the jam glaze and set the balls round the edge. Brush the cake topping with a little beaten egg.

  9. Preheat the grill to high. Place the cake onto a baking tray and grill for 1-2 minutes, or until the top of the marzipan begins to brown. Alternatively, lightly heat the cake topping using a cook’s blow torch, until the marzipan is golden-brown.

Recipe courtesy of BBC Food.

What should you buy for Mothers’ Day?

mothers day

Mothers’ Day is such a special day, to show Mum how much she’s valued and appreciated, but have you ever wondered where Mother’s Day came from?

Mothers Day (or Mothering Sunday as it sometimes known in the UK) is celebrated all over the world, but at different times of the year and like many traditions began with a religious purpose. Held on the fourth Sunday in Lent, the day was originally a day to honour and give thanks to the Virgin Mary and with the spread of Christianity in the 16th century, celebrations increased and put Mothering Sunday firmly on the map. However by 1935 the popularity of this special day had started to decrease and was celebrated less and less until WWII.

American & Canadian troops felt a desperate need to give thanks to their Mother’s whilst away at war and the British and other European troops soon followed suit, since then Mothers’ Day has become one of the most celebrated holidays making it one of the biggest days for flowers and cards.

But what if you fancy giving something a little different, or your dear ole Mum suffers from hay fever! It is often the most thoughtful gifts that are treasured like adding a photograph of a happy memory to a sentimental frame or why not gift our gorgeous duck family, with Mum fondly admiring her two small ducklings, it is very appropriate for this time of year and will be treasured for years to come.

Or if you fancy being a little creative then traditionally Simnel Cake was given on Mothering Sunday. Simnel cakes are made of two rich fruit cakes that are sandwiched together with almond paste and decorated with eleven marzipan balls on the top representing the eleven disciples (excluding Judas). It tastes absolutely delicious and I’m sure Mum will share 🙂

Tune in next week for my favourite Simnel cake recipe and get baking! If you haven’t got time for Mothers’ Day don’t worry Simnel cake is great for Easter too:-)

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