Easter Simnel Cake
This has become the traditional Easter cake, but originally it was given by servant girls to their mothers when they went home on Mothering Sunday. The almond-paste balls represent the eleven apostles (not including Judas).
- 100g (4 oz) red or natural glacé cherries
- 225g (8 oz) softened butter
- 225g (8 oz) light muscovado sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 225g (8 oz) self-raising flour
- 225g (8 oz) sultanas
- 100g (4 oz) currants
- 50g (2 oz) chopped candied peel
- grated rind of 2 lemons
- 2 level tsp ground mixed spice
- For the filling and topping:
- 450 g (1 lb) almond paste or marzipan
- 2 tbsp apricot jam
- 1 large egg, beaten, to glaze
1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C/Fan 130°C/Gas 2. Grease a 20 cm (8 in) deep round cake tin then line the base and sides with baking parchment.
2. Cut the cherries into quarters, put in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper. Measure all the cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat well until thoroughly blended. Place half the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.
3. Take one-third of the almond paste and roll it out to a circle the size of the tin and then place on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.
4. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 2½ hours until well risen, evenly brown and firm to the touch. Cover with foil after 1 hour if the top is browning too quickly. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.
5. When the cake is cool, brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam and roll out half the remaining almond paste to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate. Mark a criss-cross pattern on the almond paste with a sharp knife. Form the remaining almond paste into 11 balls.
6. Brush the almond paste with beaten egg and arrange the almond paste balls around the edge of the cake. Brush the tops of the balls with beaten egg, too, and then place the cake under a hot grill to turn the almond paste golden.
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