Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A Simnel Tale

Homely Matters

"I’ll to thee a simnell bring
'Gainst thou go'st a mothering
So that when she blesseth thee
Half that blessing thou’lt give to me."

Robert Hendrick 1648

             On Sunday it's Mother's Day in the UK. I decided in the spirit of my emerging homemaker, to bake a Simnel cake so I too could go a'mothering. So I have been reading up a little about Simnel Cakes which are now mostly a symbol of Easter but were originally given for Mothering Sunday. There are many different accounts about how the Simnel cake came into being but it would seem to have been around since the middle ages originally as a cake which was given to the church on the 3rd Sunday of Lent. In the 1600's this Sunday became a rare day off for servant girls and they would be allowed to take flowers and maybe a simnel cake to their mother. There are myths regarding where the name Simnel came from and you can read about that on Wikipedia if you are particularly interested.
            Never having made a fruit cake or marzipan I thought it would be fun to try and might be a welcome change from the usual gifts I give my mum, who incidentally is the best mum in the whole wide world! So here are the results of my efforts.

It was actually quite easy except the marzipan (made with ground almonds, sugar, eggs and almond essence) was really sticky and I had to add lots more ground almond so that I could roll it out. The recipe said to divide the marzipan into three, cut out two rounds and make 11 or 12 balls. The balls represent Jesus' disciples (not including Judas as he betrayed Jesus) and a 12th larger one can be added in the middle to represent Jesus himself.

Next you cream the butter and brown sugar and add the other ingredients - flour, eggs, mixed spice, mixed fruit, mixed peel and lemon rind.

Then you put half the mixture in a cake tin and one of the marzipan rounds on top.

 In goes the rest of the mixture and it's baked in the oven for about 1 hr 50 mins. Once cooled apricot jam is spread on the top, the marzipan round is placed on top and it's decorated with the marzipan balls around the edge.

If you want to make one there are many different versions of the recipe on the internet. Hope you enjoy Mothers Day however you decide to celebrate. xx


  1. Hi thanks for stopping by my blog. That cake looks really gorgeous, I'm not the best cook and am always amazed at wonderful cooked creations. Look forward to keeping up with your blog.
    Kandi x

  2. It looks perfect!!

    Now this is a blast from the past - we always used to have Symnol cake at church - can't remember whether it was mothering Sunday, or just random lent, but we had it every year up until I was about 12.

    Every year I would forget that I don't like marzipan and have to be in the mood for fruit cake, would take a huge piece (cos I'm a greedy get) and then struggle to eat it, but forcing myself to because I didn't look wastefu1!

    I love to try another bit...

    I'm loving the online baking steps, keep it up Becky xxx

  3. Congratulations your cake looks perfect! My favourite recipe book is a very old BeRo book that I've used since I was about 9 years old. Its very discloured and the pages are stuck in with yellowing cellotape. I think I've tried nearly every recipe in the book except the simnel cake! I had no idea you put the marzipan in the middle before baking. Who'd have guessed!

    Enjoyed your Farfield post ;)

  4. Thank you all for your lovely comments. They are really appreciated. Glad you enjoyed the post.So happy to know people are reading my little blog xx


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