The Easter tradition of the Simnel Cake (with 11 marzipan balls on top – each representing one of Jesus’s disciples excluding Judas Iscariot) is a light fruit cake sandwiching a layer of almond paste. The cake was traditionally served on the middle Sunday of Lent – Mothering Sunday. The name Simnel probably comes from the Latin word simila which means a fine wheat flour which is usually used for baking a cake.
Here’s our favourite of the many Simnel Cake recipes available – Mary Berry’s recipe comes out on top.
You will need….
175g soft butter
175g light muscovado sugar
175g self-raising flour
90g glacé cherries, quartered, rinsed, and dried
30g candied peel, roughly chopped
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
For the filling and decoration:
500g almond paste
2 tbsp apricot jam
1 egg white
You will also need a deep 18 cm (7 in) round loose-bottomed cake tin
- Roll out a third of the almond paste and use the base of the cake tin to cut out an 18cm circle. Grease the tin and line the side and bottom with greaseproof paper.
- Put all the cake ingredients in a bowl and beat until thoroughly mixed.
- Spoon half the mixture into the tin – smooth the surface and top with the circle of almond paste. Spoon the remainder of the mixture on the top and level the surface.
- Bake in a preheated oven 150°C/gas mark 2, for 2 ¼ hours or until golden brown and firm to the touch – if it browns too quickly then cover the top with greaseproof paper.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then take it out and leave it to cool completely.
- Warm the jam and brush the top of the cake.
- Roll out half the remaining paste to an 18cm circle, put on top of the jam and crimp the edges.
- Roll out the remaining paste to make 11 even sized balls, attach them with egg white.
- Brush the top of the balls and almond paste with egg white, place under a hot grill until the balls are golden – 1 or 2 minutes.