Simnel Cake – Weekly Bake Off – 6 April 2012

Simnel Cake


This week’s recipe set by Amy was Simnel Cake. This is through @weeklybakeoff on Twitter. We’re working our way through Mary Berry’s 100 Cakes and Bakes book.

I’d never made a Simnel Cake before and never tasted one either.  Reading the recipe I did wonder why I’d never tried one, I love marzipan and this cake is full of it!

As per Wikipedia, a Simnel Cake is a light fruit cake, similar to a Christmas cake, covered in marzipan, then toasted, and eaten during the Easter period in the United Kingdom, Ireland and some other countries. A layer of marzipan or almond paste is also baked into the middle of the cake. On the top of the cake, around the edge, are eleven marzipan balls said to represent the true disciples of Jesus;  Judas is omitted. In some variations Christ is also represented, by a ball placed at the centre.

Simnel cakes have been known since medieval times. More recently, they became a Mothering Sunday tradition, when young girls in service would make one to be taken home to their mothers on their day off. The word simnel probably derived from the Latin word simila, meaning fine, wheaten flour with which the cakes were made.

The recipe:

100g/4oz glace cherries

225g/8oz butter, softened

225g/8oz light muscovado sugar

4 large eggs

225g/8oz self raising flour

225g/8oz sultanas

100g/4oz currants

50g/2oz chopped candied peel

2 lemons, grated zest only

2 tsp ground mixed spice

For the filling and topping:

450g/1lb marziplan

1-2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed

This is a very moist cake which smells heavenly and tastes wonderful.

For my decoration on this cake I did eleven small marzipan balls to represent the true disciples and a larger ball to represent Jesus.

Happy Easter and Happy Baking!

Preparation and Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150C/280F/Gas 2. Grease and line a 20cm/ 8in cake tin.
  2. Cut the cherries into quarters, put in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper.
  3. Place the cherries in a bowl with the butter, sugar, eggs, self-raising flour, sultanas, currants, candied peel, lemon zest and mixed spice and beat well until thoroughly mixed. Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin.
  4. Take one-third of the marzipan and roll it out to a circle the size of the tin and then place on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.
  5. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 2½ hours, or until well risen, evenly brown and firm to the touch. Cover with aluminium foil after one hour if the top is browning too quickly. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.
  6. When the cake is cool, brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam and roll out half the remaining marzipan to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate. Mark a criss-cross pattern on the marzipan with a sharp knife. Form the remaining marzipan into 11 balls.
  7. Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the marzipan balls around the edge of the cake. Brush the tops of the balls with beaten egg and then carefully place the cake under a hot grill until the top is lightly toasted.

This is the Mary Berry recipe we used:

The history of Simnel Cakes can be found at:







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