An Recipe for Easter: Simnel Cake
Simnel Cake has been eaten since medieval times as both a rich, sweet treat and a symbolic ritual at Easter. The fruit cake is topped with eleven marzipan balls to represent the eleven apostles of Christ, minus Judas.
- 175 g soft butter or margarine, plus extra for greasing
- 175 g light muscovado sugar
- 3 eggs
- 175 g self-raising flour
- 175 g sultanas
- 90 g currants
- 90 g glacé cherries, quartered, rinsed, and dried
- 30 g candied peel, roughly chopped
- Grated zest of 1 large lemon
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 500 g almond paste
- 2 tbsp apricot jam
- 1 egg white
- Deep 18 cm (7 in) round loose-bottomed cake tin
- Roll out one-third of the almond paste. Using the base of the cake tin as a guide, cut out an 18 centimetre round.
- Grease the cake tin and line the bottom and side with greaseproof paper.
- Combine all the cake ingredients in a bowl. Beat well until thoroughly blended. Spoon half of the cake mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Top with the round of almond paste.
- Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 150°C/gas mark 2 for two and a quarter hours or until golden brown and firm to the touch.
- Cover the top of the cake with greaseproof paper if it is browning too quickly. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin, and leave to cool completely.
- Warm the jam and use to brush the top of the cake.
- To decorate the cake, roll out half of the remaining almond paste and use the tin to cut out an 18 centimetre round. Put on top of the jam and crimp the edges. Roll the remaining almond paste into 11 even-sized balls. Place around the edge of the cake, attaching them with egg white.
- Brush the tops of the balls and the almond paste with egg white. Place under a hot grill for one to two minutes, until the balls are golden.