As everyday life changes all around us and more and more restrictions are coming into place every day, it’s important that we all hold on to whatever ‘normal’ we can. Putting a regular routine in place for working from home, mealtimes, leisure and exercise and relaxation time will help each and every one of us get through the challenges of the weeks ahead.
For those of us with children, who are now at home with us, we owe it to them to put a structure in place for each day and to continue to enjoy each day, and any celebrations that are coming up, as best we can. That’s why, in today’s blog post, we’re talking about how to bake a Simnel Cake, ready for Easter in just a couple of weeks’ time.
What exactly is a Simnel Cake?
Simnel Cake has a long tradition in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Whilst it was originally eaten on the last Sunday of lent, it is now eaten throughout the period before Easter but it is particularly seen as a treat for Easter Sunday. You might not be familiar with Simnel Cake, as it did see quite a decline in popularity until quite recently. However, with a resurgence in interest in home baking and traditional recipes, fuelled in part by programmes such as Great British Bake Off, Simnel Cake is back in fashion.
Why not have a go at baking one yourself this year? It’s something new and different to try and will provide something interesting to do for an afternoon, whilst we are all stuck at home. If you have kids at home too, then you could make a day of it - learning about Easter traditions in the UK in the morning and then baking a Simnel Cake in the afternoon. All you need is a circular cake tin and a few basic ingredients and you’re good to go. Let’s take a look at the recipe…
Recipe for Simnel Cake
Ingredients for cake
200gms plain flour
200gms unsalted butter
200gms brown sugar
3 large free-range eggs
1 tsp mixed spice
375gms dried fruit (raisins, sultanas and currants)
75gms dried peel
2tbsp apricot jam
zest of a lemon
Ingredients for almond paste
275gms caster sugar
275gms ground almonds
2 large free-range eggs
few drops of almond essence
Make the almond paste by combining the ground almonds and sugar in a bowl, along with the beaten egg and almond essence. Knead it until it forms a smooth mixture. Roll it out on a clean surface and cut a circle the same size as your cake tin. Put the remainder of the almond paste to one side, ready to use as decoration.
Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is fluffy and well-combined. Slowly beat in the eggs and when combined, sift the flour in too, as well as the mixed spice. Add the flour gradually, combining it as you go. Then add the mixed fruit, lemon zest and dried peel, ensuring it is spread throughout the mixture evenly.
Put half of the mixture into a deep cake tin and then place the almond paste circle on the top of it. Then top up the cake tin with the rest of the cake mix. Bake for 1 hour, 45minutes.
Once cooked (test using a skewer to see if it comes out clean), transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Once the cake has cooled, spread the apricot jam on the top of the cake. Split the remaining almond paste into two, and using one half, roll out another circle to place on the top of the cake. Divide the last piece of almond paste into 11 small balls and place these balls around the edge of the almond paste circle on top of the cake. Brush with a little beaten egg and then either place the cake on a baking pan and pop it under the grill for a few minutes or use a kitchen blowtorch until the almond paste is gently browned.
Has this recipe for Simnel Cake persuaded you to get out a baking pan and give it a go this year? We certainly hope so. In the current climate, we feel that more and more people will reach to crafts, long-forgotten pastimes and home comforts such as baking. If we can provide inspiration and ideas for anyone at home during this period, then that’s something to be proud of and pleased about!
Are you planning to bake something special for Easter? Whether it’s a Simnel Cake, Hot Cross Buns or simply a simple sponge cake topped with fondant and covered with chocolate eggs, we’d love it if you shared photos of your creations with us. Get in touch with us via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, and we’ll share your photos with our friends and followers. Let’s fill the coming Easter celebrations with as much fun and happiness as with any other year!