With Eastertide coming to an end on Sunday, if you haven’t made an Easter Simnel Cake yet, you’re definitely missing out – and there’s no time like the present.
The name simnel probably comes from the ancient Roman word simila, meaning fine flour. Simple, every day, simnel bread has been made in England since as far back as the 11th century. Bread regulations of the time suggest they were boiled and then baked, but that’s definitely not what this recipe will suggest.
For the cake:
225g soft margarine
225g light brown sugar
4 beaten eggs
225g self-raising flour
225g glace cherries washed and quartered
225g candied peel chopped
2 lemons (grated rind only)
2 level tsp mixed spice
Filling and topping:
450g almond paste
2 tbsp apricot jam
1 egg beaten to glaze
The Simnel Cake, a symbolic Easter cake, is decorated with eleven marzipan balls around the cake to represent the 11 disciples. Though there were 12 disciples, Judas Iscariot is omitted as he betrayed Jesus.
Preheat the oven to 120°C. Cream the margarine and sugar. Add the beaten eggs and mix. Add the fruit, mixed spice, flour and lemon rind and combine.
Place half the mixture into a 20cm round cake tin, greased and lined, and level the surface.
Roll one third of the almond paste into a circle the size of the cake tin and place on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.
Bake in a preheated fan oven at 120°C for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake is golden brown. Cool in the tin for 30 minutes, before removing the cake from the tin and placing it to cool on a wire rack.
When the cake is cool brush with a little warmed jam. Roll out most of the remaining almond paste to cover the top of the cake, reserving some to roll into 11 balls. Brush the paste and balls with the beaten egg and arrange the almond paste balls around the top of the cake. Cover all but the top of the cake with tinfoil and place in a hot oven for a few minutes to toast.