Mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers, single mothers, first time mothers, mothers to be – this week on Sunday, we are celebrating and honouring all mums all over the world.
Everyone has their own Mother’s Day celebrations and traditions; breakfast in bed, freshly cut flowers, a home cooked meal, but one of the oldest traditions is actually a cake!
Simnel cakes have been around since at least medieval times and became a Mothering Sunday tradition, with children them to gift their mothers.
Simnel cake is a light and moist fruitcake sandwiched and topped with marzipan and normally decorated with 11 balls of marzipan (to represent the 11 apostles, minus Judas.)
There are so many recipe variations but the following is the recipe we used this year. It’s a really easy cake to make and the recipe doesn’t have to be followed down to the last sultana!
- 225g self-raising flour
- 225g butter, at room temperature
- 225g light muscovado sugar
- 4 eggs
- 100g glace cherries, washed and quartered
- 100g currants
- 100g sultanas
- 200g mixed dried fruit
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
For the topping
- 500g good quality marzipan
- 2tbsp apricot jam, melted
- 1 egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 150C and grease and line a 7inch cake tin.
- Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl and cream together until light and fluffy. Slowly add the eggs and mix well. Next add the flour and spices, continuously mixing. Once all ingredients have been well incorporated, add all the fruit and zest and juice of the lemon. Mix well.
- Pour half the cake mixture into the lined cake tin and level it off so that it’s as smooth as possible.
- Divide the marzipan into 3 parts and roll out two pieces into circles the width of the cake tin. Place one circle on top of the cake mixture in the tin and spoon the remaining mixture on top of the marzipan. Smooth out the surface.
- Put the cake in the oven and bake for just over 2 hours until the cake is brown and firm to touch. If you insert a skewer into the middle of the cake and it comes out clean, it’s ready! Allow to cool and place on a wire rack.
- Once cool, brush the cake with the apricot jam and place the second circle of marzipan on the top and press it down firmly. To decorate with the remaining marzipan, roll out 11 even-sized small balls, brush with apricot jam and place on top of the cake, around the edge.
- To finish, brush the cake with the beaten egg and place the cake on a baking tray and grill for a couple of minutes until the top of the marzipan turns a golden brown.
You can also add 50ml of Brandy to give it an extra kick, or orange juice to make a moister cake. If you do this, add the liquid to the dried fruit a couple of days before baking so that the fruit soaks up the liquid, creating a stronger taste.
Try adding ground almonds, for an even more marzipan tasting cake or changing around the quantities of dried fruit.
Enjoy and have a very Happy Mother’s Day!