Simnel Cake, a traditional British cake, was originally given to mothers by girls in service as a gift on Mothering
Sunday. Gradually, perhaps because of the nearness of Mothering Sunday to Easter, the cake was adopted as an Easter speciality. Nozoadays Simnel Cake may be served on either occasion or on both. The cake has a central layer of marzipan which is cooked with the cake mixture. The top is decorated with another layer of marzipan which is grilled or baked until a little of the sugar caramelizes a?id turns golden brown. If the cake is served at Easter, the edge of the top layer of marzipan is decorated with eleven balls of marzipan to represent the Apostles.
6 oz. plus
2 teaspoons butter
6 oz. flour
1 oz. rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 oz. castor sugar
6 oz. sultanas or seedless raisins
6 oz. currants
4 oz. glace cherries, chopped grated rind of
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied lemon peel
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 lb. Marzipan I
2 tablespoons Apricot Glaze
1 teaspoon of the butter, grease a
7-inch round cake tin. Line the tin with greaseproof or waxed paper and grease the paper with the remaining teaspoon of butter. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to moderate 350 F (Gas Mark 4, 180 deg C).
Sift the flour, rice flour and baking powder into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon, cream the remaining butter until it is light and fluffy. Stir in the sugar and beat well until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding
1 tablespoon of the flour mixture after each egg.
Using a large metal spoon, fold in half of the remaining flour mixture. Add the sultanas or seedless raisins, currants, glace cherries, lemon rind, candied lemon peel and orange rind to the remaining flour and stir well until the fruit is coated with the flour. With the metal spoon, fold in the flour and fruit mixture until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Spoon half the cake mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with the back of the spoon.
Cut off one-third of the marzipan and shape it into a circle, slightly smaller than the circumference of the tin. Place the marzipan on top of the cake mixture. Wrap the remaining marzipan in greaseproof or waxed paper and store until required. Spoon the remaining cake mixture into the tin and smooth the surface with the back of the spoon.
Place the cake in the centre of the oven and bake for U hours. Reduce the oven temperature to cool 300°F (Gas Mark 2, 150°C) and continue baking the cake for a further 1 to 1 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, and the cake has shrunk slightly away from the sides of the tin.
Remove the tin from the oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and turn the cake out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
Brush the top of the cake with most of the apricot glaze. Unwrap the marzipan and discard the coverings. Cut the marzipan in half. On a working surface lightly sprinkled with cornflour , roll out one piece of marzipan to a circle the same size as the top of the cake. Lay the marzipan on top of the cake. Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 balls, dip the balls in the remaining apricot glaze and press them around the edge of the marzipan topping.
Preheat the oven to hot 425rF (Gas Mark 7, 220°C).
Place the cake on an ovenproof dish and place it in the oven. Bake the marzipan for 5 to 8 minutes or until the tops of the balls are golden brown. Remove the dish from the oven.
Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely. Place the cake on a serving dish and serve.