Simnel cakes have become an Easter tradition, but originally this cake making ritual was associated with the fourth Sunday in Lent, which in medieval times was a day when people gathered at their ‘mother church’ to honour the local patron saint and receive a blessing. The occasion was known as ‘Mothering Sunday’ but the term ‘mother’ applied to the church. Times change and Mothering Sunday for many has become a celebration for Mothers – and maybe this is why Simnel cake has developed into one of many symbols of Easter.
Typically, Simnel cakes are decorated with eleven toasted marzipan orbs around its perimeter representing the twelve apostles, excluding Judas, and if you like to place one in the centre that would denote Jesus.
There’s so many stories around how the name of this cake came about. About.com suggests that the name came from a sister (Nell) and brother (Simon) who wanted to make a cake for their mother. One wanted to bake the cake, the other to boil it. They decided to do both and bring them together in one… which became The Simnel Cake.
We wanted to know what makes a Simnel cake different from a typical Christmas or fruit cake.
Delia says – and who would argue with her when it comes to cakes? – Simnel cake is a rich fruit cake which includes knobs of marzipan stirred into the mixture that melt and combine with all the other flavours during cooking. Her recipe is here Its swan song is the marzipan decoration.
Other common themes to this much loved recipe are:
- Add plenty of lemon and orange;
- Soak the fruit for 24 hours in Brandy and fruit juice.
If you are embarking on your first ever Simnel cake you may wonder if you need any special equipment. The answer is probably no. The obvious comes to mind: a mixing bowl, a spoon and it may be easier with a stand mixer. However – a good tin can make the difference. We would recommend either:
- A Stellar Hard Anodised cake tin for its superior thermal properties and durability as these are built to last with their lifetime guarantee. The tins in this collection are round, so if your preference is for square cakes, then please check out the Judge Collection;
- A cake tin from the Judge bakeware range, which features over 50 items and includes a wide selection of round, square, spring form and loose based tins. Are we spoiling you with choice? This sturdy high-performance bakeware range is also supported by a 5 year non-stick guarantee and they are dishwasher safe.
Rest assured – choosing bakeware by Judge or Stellar means you can enjoy Simnel cake for years!
We would love for you to share a picture of your Simnel cake – please post it here or on our social media for your chance to win some baking gadgets.
In summary, our 5 top tips for Simnel cake success are:
- Line your tin;
- Don’t skimp on ingredients as they create the unique flavour;
- Allow time for fruit soak;
- Serve with your favourite beverage;
- Share with friends and family.
And if Simnel cake isn’t for you – why not check out our blog on an Easter cake that’s more appealing to children? (Link)