Originally the Simnel Cake was made for Mother's Day by girls in service who were given the day off to visit their mothers but now is more often eaten at Easter.
The name is believed to come from a sister (Nell) and brother (Simon) who wanted to make a cake for their mother. One wanted to bake the cake, the other to boil it. They decided to do both and bring them together in one which became what we now know as The Simnel Cake.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
- 560g / 1 ¼ lbs ready made almond paste (***marzipan)
- 450g / 1 lb dried mixed fruits (currants, raisins, sultanas, glace cherries)
- 80g / 3 oz candied chopped peel
- 225g / 8 oz plain / all purpose flour
- Pinch salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 175g / 6 oz butter
- 175g / 6 oz caster sugar / fine sugar
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- Milk to mix
- 2 tbsp apricot jam
- Line a 18cm / 7 inch cake tin with parchment or greaseproof paper.
- Divide the almond paste into 3 and take one portion and roll it to a round the size of the cake tin.
- In a large roomy baking bowl mix the mixed dried fruits and candied peel with the flour, salt and spices.
- In another large bowl cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg to the butter mixture a little bit at a time, beating well after each addition - do not try to rush this process as the mixture could curdle. If it does curdle simply add a tbsp of the flour and mix again, this should bring the mixture back together.
- Carefully fold in half the flour and half the fruit into the egg and butter mixture, once incorporated repeat with the remaining flour and fruit.
- Put half of the cake mixture into the tin, smooth and cover with the round of almond paste. Put the remaining cake mixture into the tin and smooth the surface carefully. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour.
- Lower the heat to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2 and bake for 1 ½ more or (depending on your oven) until the cake is golden brown. To check if the cake is cooked, insert a skewer into the cake, it should come out clean and dry. If it is, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.If not, cook a little longer.
- Roll another third of almond paste, again to the size of the tin. Make the remaining almond paste equally into 11 tiny balls.
- Once the cake is completely cool, remove from the tin and brush the top of the cake with apricot jam and cover with the disc of almond paste. Place the 11 tiny balls of paste evenly around the edge. Brush the paste all over with a little apricot jam and place under a hot grill until lightly browned.
- The cake can then be decorated as you wish with tiny Easter eggs or any other Easter theme.