Daily Archives: March 30, 2010

Things to Make and Do at Easter: Part 2 – Simnel Cake

Simnel Cake was originally made by maid servants to take home to their mothers on Mothers’ Day.  It was a test of their cooking as to whether it was moist enough to last until Easter.  Traditionally, there are eleven marzipan balls placed around the top with a conspicuous gap left.  These represent the eleven loyal disciples of Jesus with the gap reminding us of the betrayal by Judas Iscariot.  Symbolic or not, it’s a gorgeous cake to eat at Easter.

SIMNEL CAKE

Utensils:
1 x 7” round cake tin with deep sides – ideally loose bottomed
greaseproof paper
1 x large mixing bowl
1 x electric mixer
1 x rolling pin
1 x pastry brush
1 x wire rack for cooling

Ingredients:
6oz / 180g butter
6oz / 180g white or Demerara sugar
3 eggs
8oz / 240g self raising flour
12 oz / 360g raisins
4oz / 120g sultanas
3oz / 90g currants
a pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
A little milk
1 ½ lb / 750g marzipan – cut into three equal pieces
Apricot jam
Extra beaten egg for glazing

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 160 / 325 / 3
Grease and line the cake tin with the greaseproof paper
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
Gradually beat in the eggs
Fold in half the flour and fruit and all the salt and spices
Then beat in the remaining flour and fruit and a little milk if it’s very stiff mixture.
Put half the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth it flat
Take 1/3 of the marzipan and, using the cake tin as a template, roll out a circle to fit inside the tin
Place the circle of marzipan on top of the mixture in the tin
Put the remaining cake mixture on the top and make a small indentation in the middle (to keep it flat as it rises)
Put in the oven for about 2 hours or until cooked through
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack
If the cake has risen in the middle, just slice the top off with a sharp knife to make it level
Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam
Roll out the second 1/3 of the marzipan and cut into a circle to exactly fit the top of the cake
Pinch round the edge to make an attractive finish
Form the final 1/3 of the marzipan into eleven balls and arrange around the top of the cake leaving one space
Brush the top of the cake with beaten egg and brown very slightly under a medium grill
Put a nice ribbon around the cake to finish it off.

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