by Nigella, Featured in Feast
Simnel cakes have been known since medieval times, and Recently, they became a Mothering Sunday tradition, when young girls in service would make one to be taken home to their mothers on their day off.
The Simnel cake is a light fruit cake with two layers of marzipan, one in the middle and one on top, that is toasted, and eaten during Easter time in the UK. It was originally made for the middle Sunday of Lent, when the forty day fast would be relaxed. For Mothering Sunday.
Eleven marzipan balls are used to decorate the cake, with a story that the balls represent the twelve apostles, minus Judas.
Makes: at least 11 slices
100g Glace Cherries – 65p
500g Luxury Dried Mixed Fruit – £1.61
175g savers Salted Butter – 60p
175g Caster Sugar – 30p
1 Lemon – 34p
225g plain flour – 7p
1 teaspoon Baking Powder – 2p
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon – 1p
1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger – 1p
25g ground almonds – 30p
3 Free Range Eggs Large – 56p
2 tablespoons milk – 2p
500g Marzipan – £1.63
icing sugar for rolling – 3p
1 tablespoon apricot jam (melted) – 5p
1 egg white (optional)
These prices are an estimate and total £8
Preheat the oven to 170°C or Gas Mark 3. Butter and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm cake tin with a double layer of brown baking paper.
Chop the cherries very finely and add them to the rest of the fruit.
With a spoon, cream the butter and sugar together then and add the lemon zest.
Measure the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and ground almonds into a bowl and stir to combine.
Add 1 of the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar with 2 tablespoons of the dry flour-and-spice ingredients, then beat in the remaining eggs in the same way. Beat in the rest of the dry ingredients, and then the milk. Finally fold in the fruit.
Dust a surface with a little icing sugar and then roll out about 1/3 of the marzipan. Cut it into a 20cm circle which will fit in the middle of the cake later.
Spoon half of the fruit cake mixture into the cake tin, smoothing it down and then lay the marzipan circle on top of it.
Spoon the rest of the mixture into the tin on top of the marzipan circle and smooth the top again.
Bake for half an hour and then turn the oven down to 150°C or Gas Mark 2 for another 1 1/2 hours or until the cake has risen and is firm on top. Let it cool completely on a rack before you take it out of the tin.
Roll out another 1/3 circle of marzipan, paint the top of the cake with the melted apricot jam,and then stick it on.
Make 11 apostle balls out of the remaining marzipan, Beat the egg white and use that as glue to stick the apostles around the edge of the cake as shown.
Paint the whole of the cake with egg white, then place under a hot grill for a few minutes so that it scorches slightly, giving a beautiful burnished look. Keep an eye on it so that you don’t burn it and ruin all the hard work.