Saturday, 23 April 2011

The cake I'm taking to the Easter Parade

In your easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the easter parade. 
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over
I'll be the proudest fellow in the easter parade.
On the avenue, fifth avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your easter bonnet,
And of the girl I'm taking to the easter parade.

Irving Berlin (Easter Parade)

In the blogging world I’m a fairly quiet sort, I pootle along doing the occasional post that people refer to as interesting or that catches people’s attention, I was an early cupcake queen but apart from that I rarely rattle cages or make too much noise. And truth be told, that’s in the most part the way I like things. I do sometimes wish I was invited to more blogger events and feel a little unread at times, but also get somewhat irritated by those that tweet the link to their latest post every 10 minutes so have that internal conflict going on. Anyway, one of the things I promised myself I would do this year is make more effort to ‘get involved’ and Julia of “A Slice of Cherry PieEaster cake bake is the first such thing I’ve come across. So, I wondered what I would do – should I modify a simnel cake into cupcakes? Should I try something new? Meander into macarons? Wander into whoopee pies? Canter along with cake pops? And then I decided, no – traditional it shall be – and so we have a Simnel cake.

Whilst not exciting, I love a traditional Simnel cake, it’s the marzipan baked into the cake itself that really makes it for me, as well as the slightly lighter fruit cake (although I did forget to add cherries this year!) I did discover that there’s a bit of discussion going on about Simnel cakes, as they originated as cakes made by daughters in service who returned home to their Mother’s (and their ‘mother’ church) for Mothering Sunday, and was later pinched by Easter. Also, how many balls does one put on top? I had always been taught 11, for the true disciples (so excluding Judas), but apparently you can have 12 - true disciples plus Jesus, or all the disciples, or 13 which is all the disciples plus Jesus. Who knew that marzipan balls could be the starting point of such contention?

I’ve been using this recipe for years, it’s my Mother’s (so apt for whichever reason you make the cake) and the only change I think I might make is to soak my fruit in amaretto next time to see if you can make it more almondy by using soaked fruit. Oh and substitute 2oz or so of the currants for chopped up glace cherries. That may push it over into too much, but where marzipan and almond flavours are concerned, I don’t believe in too much. Oh and excuse the raggedy edges on the marzipan, if you knew what happened next morning, you wouldn't be surprised!

Simnel Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 150˚C/ Gas mark 2
  • Grease a line a 7 inch cake tin


6oz butter

6oz soft brown sugar

3 eggs lightly beaten

8oz self raising flour, sieved

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

4oz sultanas

12oz currants

2oz ground almonds

2 x 8oz packs marzipan

  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  • Beat in the eggs a little at a time
  • Fold in the dry ingredients and stir in the fruit and ground almonds
  • Put half the mixture into the greased and lined tin
  • Roll out both packs of marzipan thinly enough so that you can cut 2 cake tin sized circles out (with trimmings)
  • Place one on top of the mixture in the tin
  • Cover with the remainder of the cake mixture
  • Bake for 3 – 3 ½ hours
  • Turn out and cool on a wire tray, removing the paper
  • Place the second circle of marzipan on top, and then make the trimmings into (however many you decide on) little balls of roughly the same size to go on top.

 Next time - sometimes nice things do happen to the nice people!

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