Easter Recipe: Simnel Cake

A seasonal fruit cake


Simnel Cake is traditionally eaten at Easter and in medieval days female servants would bake this fruit rich cake to take home on their rare visits their mother's on Mothering Sunday which was the fourth Sunday during the Lent period.

Simnel cake is symbolic and decorated to signify aspects of Christianity. 11 marzipan balls or figures mark the apostles. Though there were 12 - Judas Iscariot is omitted from the Simnel cake.

The word Simnel comes from the Latin word Simila which means fine wheaten flour. The cake was traditionally made from this fine wheaten flour.

It tastes much like a traditional Christmas cake, but with marzipan instead of icing.

Many shops stock them - but here's your chance to have a go and make your own.

(Let me know if it's nice!)


* 6 oz/175g butter/marg
* 6 oz/175g caster sugar
* 3 eggs
* 8 oz/225g plain flour
* ½ tsp cinnamon
* 4 oz/100g glace cherries (chopped)
* 15 oz/425g mixed dried fruit (with or without peel)
* Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
* 1 lb/450g marzipan

Grease and line a 7”/18cm round cake tin.

Cream butter and sugar until pale, beat in the eggs.

Add the flour, cinnamon and lemon zest and fold in.

Add the fruits and fold in, until the ingredients are well combined.

Spoon half of the mixture into the cake tin.

Roll out half of the marzipan into a circle just smaller than the diameter of the cake tin (about 6.5”/17cm).

Put this marzipan on top of the cake mixture.

Spoon the rest of the mixture on top, and level the surface.

Bake at 150C for about 2.5 hours, until brown and firm to the touch.

Cool in the tin and then turn out.

Roll out the rest of the marzipan a cut out another circle, just bigger than the diameter of the cake. Spread a little warmed apricot jam over the top of the cake and stick the circle of marzipan on top.

Using the marzipan trimmings, make 11 small balls. Stick these on around the edge of the marzipan, using a dab of warmed apricot jam as ’glue’.

If you like you can put the cake under a hot grill for a minute or so, until the marzipan just starts to brown.

Just before serving add chocolate eggs and Easter chicks on the top of the cake.



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March 28th, 2010