EASTER RECIPE: SIMNEL CAKE
This cake, which dates back to Tudor times, has become an Easter speciality although traditionally it
was made by servant girls to give to their mothers on Mothering Sunday. The 11 balls on top of the cake are
said to represent 11 of the 12 disciples of Jesus. Judas the betrayer who was the twelfth is not included. This
is a rich fruit cake, covered with marzipan, which will keep for several weeks.
Preparation time 40 mins
Cooking time 50–60 mins
Equipment: 20cm round cake tin, about 7cm deep
1 75g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
1 75g soft brown sugar
1 75g plain flour
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
350g mixed raisins, currants and sultanas
55g chopped mixed peel
55g glacé cherries
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Icing sugar for dusting
2 tbsp smooth apricot jam
1 egg, beaten, for glazing
- Preheat the oven to 140°C/gas 1. Butter the cake tin and line the bottom of the tin with baking paper.
- Make the marzipan and divide it into 3 balls. On a surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out one ball to make a circle 18cm in diameter, using the cake tin as a template. Chill the remaining 2 balls of marzipan in the fridge.
- In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in each until well incorporated before you add the next.
- Sift the flour, spices and salt together and gently fold into the butter and egg mixture. Finally, add the mixed dried fruit, peel, glacé cherries and lemon zest and stir to combine.
- Spoon half of the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Lay the rolled-out disc of marzipan over the top and then spoon in the rest of the mixture to cover the marzipan.
- Bake for 50–60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool slightly in the tin, before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Take the 2 remaining balls of marzipan out of the fridge and roll one ball out into a circular disc large enough to generously cover the top of the cake. Divide the second ball into 11 smaller balls. Brush some of the jam over the top of the cake and lay the disc of marzipan over it, so that it covers the top of the cake with a little hanging over the sides.
- Dab 11 blobs of jam around the edge of the cake and place a ball in each blob. Brush the marzipan topping and balls with the beaten egg then place under a hot grill for 1–2 minutes to brown and glaze the surface.