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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Traditional Simnel Cake Recipe




Simnel cake is a traditional Easter treat in the UK. Apparently this marzipan-and-fruit cake recipe originated as a cake made for Mothering Sunday, but I've only ever associated it with the Easter holidays. The eleven marzipan balls are to represent Christ's apostles, minus Judas, for obvious reasons.


This may just be the perfect balance for a fruit cake: it's light and fluffy, but every mouthful is packed with lovely, juicy fruit. And I love marzipan, so having a marzipan layer through the middle probably improves any cake...

Most traditional recipes have some lemon or orange zest thrown in, but I didn't have any fruit in the house. This recipe makes a large cake suitable for feeding the whole family, but you can easily scale it to make a smaller quantity.



Simnel Cake Recipe
Makes 8in/20cm cake

500g/18oz marzipan
225g/8oz butter
225g/8oz soft brown sugar
4 eggs
225g/8oz plain flour
2tsp mixed spice (or 1tsp cinnamon and 1tsp ginger)
310g/11oz raisins
140g/5oz candied peel
110g/4oz glace cherries (quartered)

  1. Grease and line an 8in/20cm round cake tin - or cheat like I do, and use a non-stick tin.
  2. Preheat the oven to 140°C.
  3. Take one third of the marzipan, knead until soft enough to work, and roll out into an 8in/20cm circle.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs and beat until thoroughly combined.
  5. Fold in the flour and mixed spice.
  6. Stir in the dried fruits and mix thoroughly.
  7. Spoon half of the cake mix into the bottom of the tin. Lay the marzipan circle in the tin on top of the cake mixture, and add the remaining mixture on top.
    Smooth the surface with a spatula.
  8. Bake for an hour and a half (or until risen and firm) at 140°C, then transfer to a cooling tray to cool.
  9. Use half of the remaining marzipan to make a circle for the top. Form eleven balls from the remainder, rolling them between your palms to get a nice round shape (I find that I get the best results when I really tense the muscles in my hands). Arrange the balls around the outside of the cake, using a little water to stick them in place.
  10. Grill the top of the cake at a medium heat until the marzipan begins to brown (it will bubble, and then start to go brown very fast).


23 comments:

Rachel said...

Simnel cake is gorgeous. Must remember to make one this year!

Chef E said...

Did you make your own marzipan? I find it quite expensive here.

My mom made a similar cake and I liked it, in spite of the fruit cake jokes that go around here in the states. Yours looks lovely!

rosaria said...

Wow! Looks scrumptious. Does it taste like fruitcake, but lighter and torte like?

Louiz said...

Mmmm, another marzipan fan here:) Think I might give that a go.

christine said...

yummy - the way the marzimpan softens in the cake is so good:)

JDaniel4's Mom said...

The cake looks yummy. I love its symbolism.

Mademoiselle Poirot said...

That looks so good! I had never heard of Simnel cake, then I tried some from Bettys in York - yum, I'm hooked. Yours actually looks better though ;-) xo

Bibliomama said...

Can I just make the marzipan? :)

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

Thanks for showing me this, I never saw it before, that I remember?

becky said...

Ahh, at last...the mysterious simnel cake emerges! This is something that appears on my Book of Days from www.conviviobookworks.com every year to remember to bring to your mother on Mothering Sunday. I've always wondered what it was.
Mystery solved!
Thanks Rachel,
Becky

Deirdre said...

Well, now, that looks Delicious! I copied your brownie recipe from a previous post and as soon as I get my grocery shopping list finished, I'm going to attempt to make them!! :)

purplume said...

It looks lovely. I never heard of it before. XD

Michele said...

Hi Rachel! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Your site is so fascinating and diverse and I'm really looking forward to learning about that cycle tour of Iceland!

Charlotte said...

I'll eat anything with marzipan so this recipe is a winner for me!!!

PS: Never heard of simnel cake before. Thanks for sharing, Rachel!

Fly Girl said...

I love marzipan and fruitcake? Why have I never heard of this tradition? I think I might have to have my London friends ship me one along with my toffee...

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Looks good but I would not eat the marzipan as I do not like it :(

Life with Kaishon said...

It looks VERY, very pretty! YUM! Thank you for sharing with us! Fantastic!

The Blonde Duck said...

My mom makes a bunny cake every year!

Holly Lefevre said...

I have never heard of such a cake...until now. Looks like a very interesting recipe...maybe I will add it to my easter menu...the kids will love the way it looks too.

Aimee said...

Rachel, thanks for stopping by my blog! This cake looks beautiful, thank you for sharing!
Aimee @ ShugarySweets

Kim Seghers said...

I just learned something new! I have never heard of a Simnel cake before but, it looks delicious and does kind of remind me of a fruit cake. Thanks for sharing. Pinning it!
Kim from This Ole Mom

swirlsandspice.com said...

I love fruitcake and marzipan! I'd love to make my own variation on your recipe, with dates instead of raisins, etc.

Lucy T said...

I've never heard of this but it looks fantastic! Might just have to try something new! Thanks for sharing at Saturday Dishes. Pinning!

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