“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

Easter in the States is not a serious affair. That's not to say that Easter is a serious time in the UK; rather, that we have established long-term traditions here that a country that is essentially still in its infancy in the grand scheme of things (i.e. the USA) could not. In the Colonies it's all candy, eggs and Easter Egg Hunts; here it's candy, eggs and Simnel Cake.

What is Simnel cake? Well, I'm glad you asked.

Simnel cake is a rich fruit cake. No, not fruitcake. Fruit cake. For the difference, check out I Like Fruit Cake! from my other blog, The World Of Jeff!

Simnel cake differs from fruit cake in one important respect. It is traditionally covered with a layer of marzipan. I am aware that there are two schools of thought on marzipan - those who absolutely adore it (like myself) and those who loathe and despise it. If you are one of the latter, read on anyway. What do you want to go cruising around the Web for when you could stay here and read on? I promise you'll be well-looked after here.


Simnel cake, as I said, has a layer of marzipan on the top and usually around the edge there are 11 marzipan balls, representing the 11 true apostles (Judas Iscariot being left out). Traditionally another layer of marzipan is baked into the center of the cake. It started out as a Mothering Sunday gift, but as Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Lent, it became an Easter tradition.

Here's a recipe:


300g/10oz self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
110g/4oz butter or margarine
110g/4oz brown sugar
2 tablespoons of golden syrup
350g/12oz mixed dried fruit
2 eggs
approx. 100 ml milk to mix

700g Marzipan
2 tablespoons of icing sugar for decoration

Oven temperatures: 150 °C 325 °F Gas Mark 3

1. Rub the margarine into the flour.
2. Add all the dry ingredients i.e. sugar, spice and dried fruit. Stir well.
3. Add golden syrup and eggs.
4. Add enough milk to form a soft dropping consistency.
5. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
6. Grease a deep round 8 inch cake pan.
7. Place half the mixture in the pan.
8. Roll out a third of the marzipan into a circle just slightly smaller than the pan.
9. Place the marzipan on top of the mixture.
10. Add the remaining mixture on top and smooth out.
11. Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 to 1¼ hours, or until a thin metal skewer or toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
12. Let cool for about 10 minutes, loosen gently from the pan with a knife, or if you were smart and lined the pan with parchment paper, just slide the cake out, and turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
13. Roll out another third of the marzipan into a circle, this time slightly wider than the cake.
14. Mix the icing sugar with a little water to form a smooth paste and drizzle onto the cake. this is your glue.
15. Place the circle of rolled marzipan onto the cake. Using a fork, make a pattern around the edge of the marzipan, much as you would crimp the edge of a pie pastry.
16. Using the last of the marzipan, make 11 little rolled marzipan balls and dip each one into the icing sugar paste.
17. Arrange them around the edge of the cake.
18. In the centre of the cake, add any appropriate Easter decor of your choice. Et voila! You're done.

What you have now should look approximately like this.
Of course, you don't have to have a bow on yours. You could put little bunnies or chicks or little candy eggs in the middle, it's up to you. Have fun with it. The mixed dried fruit doesn't have to be specific - you could do just raisins or currants, or even dried cranberries are nice, or perhaps chopped dates. Play around with it.

By the way, there are only two days left to Name That Food! at the top of the page. What is it? It's clearly some sort of pancake, but what? Can you name it? Do you even care? Do I care if you don't care? No. I will still write this even if you don't read it.

À votre santé!

1 comment:

  1. A beautiful Simnel cake Jeff! I wish I had thought of doing this for Easter. Happy Easter! :)


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