Simnel Cake – as much a part of Easter as going to church, daffodils, spring lambs and Easter eggs. It’s not totally clear when the tradition started, most areas of the UK had their own recipe, three of which became very popular, Bury in Lancashire, Devizes in Wiltshire and Shrewsbury in Shropshire, the Shropshire recipe winning out overall at the end of the day.

Yesterday we made our cake as A will be in England over Easter, we won’t scoff it all ourselves, he plans on taking half of it home with him!

First off is a cast of ingredients for the cake, minus the mixed peel. Sorry mixed peel, I forgot about you for the photo shoot!

Combine all the almond paste ingredients, go on, get in there, have fun! And no, I don’t have really big hands and hairy arms!!

Mix all the cake ingredients up

Weigh about 1lb of cake mixture and put in a lined and greased cake tin. Take about two thirds of the
almond mixture, roll out slightly and pop on to of the cake mixture. Add the rest of the mixture and
bake in the oven.

Roll out the rest of the almond paste to completely cover the cooked cake, spread warmed apricot jam over the cooked cake and top with the almond paste. If ther are any trimmings left over, form them into small balls and “stick” to the cake with a bit more jam. It’s traditional to have 11 little balls representing the apostles. Why not 12??? Think about it, Judas is omitted!!

Pop back into a hot oven to brown the top, or grill for a couple of minutes, but be very careful to watch it as it browns really quickly this way! Obviously I wasn’t watching it enough so learn from my mistakes!!

Recipe:

Cake mix:
5oz butter
5oz soft brown sugar
2 beaten eggs
5oz plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
4oz sultanas
6oz currents
2oz mixed, cut peel
Juice of 1 orange

Almond Paste:
8oz ground almonds
8oz caster sugar
1 beaten egg
Few drops almond extract

To Finish:
3 tsp apricot jam, warmed

Method:
Combine the ground almonds and sugar in a bowl and add in the egg and almond extract. Use you hands to pull it together to form a ball. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; gradually add the beaten eggs. Sift the flour, baking powder and mixed spice together and fold into the creamed mixture. Add the dried fruit, mixed peel and orange juice and mix until well combined. Grease and line a 7″ cake tin, weigh about 1lb of cake mixture and put in the tin, smoothing the top. Roll out about half to two thirds of the almond paste and cut to fit inside the tin. Put the rest of the cake mixture on top and smooth the top again. Bake in a pre heated oven at 350F (180C) for about 1 hours and 20 minutes. Leave in the tin a while to cool a bit. Roll out the rest of the almond paste, cover the top of the cake with the warmed jam and top with the almond paste. Place back in a very hot oven, 475F (240C) for a few minutes to brown slightly. When cold, wrap up well and keep in an air tight tin.

Note: Do not use bought marzipan for this recipe as it is too firm.

Oh! And remember that snow storm?? Parts of Ohio got 20.4 inches of snow yesterday!!

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