Are you looking for something special to make for Mothering Sunday and/or Easter? Do you fancy making a cake that’s both traditional and out of the ordinary and doesn’t require an overdraft?
We have a plan…
Either of the following recipe suggestions is good for Easter or Mother’s Day celebrations and, as is the case with most traditional recipes, there are many different regional variations! One thing the Simnel cakes all have in common, though, is the use of almonds.
Simnel cakes were made by young girls who worked away from home ‘in service’ as a gift to take home for Mothering Sunday.
- 550g (1lb 4oz) ready-made almond paste
- 350g (12oz) currants
- 225g (8oz) plain flour
- 175g (6oz) caster sugar
- 175g (6oz) unsalted butter
- 100g (4oz) sultanas
- 75g (3oz) chopped mixed peel
- 50g (2oz) icing sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- A little milk to mix
- Apricot jam to glue with
Preheat the oven to 170ºC.
First divide the almond paste into three pieces and roll out one portion to a round of 18cm. Next, beat the sugar and butter together until the mixture is light and fluffy. (A food processor may be used for the mixing if you prefer).
Add one egg then beat the mixture again thoroughly. Repeat this process with each egg, one at a time, to prevent curdling. Now add the dried fruit and peel with the flour and spices.
Slowly fold this into the butter, egg and sugar combination and add a few drops of milk, if needed, to keep the mixture moist. Divide the mixture in half and put one half in a deep, lined, 18cm cake tin. Smooth the top with a palette knife and cover with the circle of almond paste made earlier. Add the remaining half of the cake mixture-on top of the almond paste round.
Bake in the preheated oven for about one hour.
When the hour is up, lower the oven temperature to 150ºC and bake the cake for another three hours. Then, when the cake is golden and firm to touch, remove from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin. Roll out the second piece of almond paste as before. Use the third portion of almond paste to make some decorations for the cake-simply roll it into small balls.
Next, use a pastry brush to cover the top of your cake with some apricot jam-not too thick! Place the second round of almond paste on top of this and decorate with the almond balls you’ve made. Pop the cake under a hot grill to lightly brown the almond paste cake top and decorative balls.
Finally, mix the icing sugar with a few drops of cold water to make a stiff glace icing. Use a spoon to spread the icing over the centre of the cake-just a small circle will be enough to make a ‘sticky stand’ for any further decorations you wish to place on top of the cake.
Leave to set and serve when ready to eat!
Kentish Lent Pie
This is another traditional Easter dish – the Kent version.
- 400ml (14fl oz) milk
- 50g (2oz) granulated sugar
- 3 beaten eggs
- 40g (1½ oz) ground rice
- 40g (1½ oz) unsalted butter
- 25g (1oz) currants
- Rind of 1 lemon, finely grated and one strip of lemon rind
- 175g (6oz) ready-made puff pastry
Preheat oven to 200ºC.
Place the milk and rice together in a pan with the strip of lemon rind. Boil for 4-5 minutes until the mixture thickens. Take the pan off the heat and remove the lemon rind-discard. Gently stir in the butter, sugar, grated lemon rind and beaten eggs. Stir for a minute or two then leave your mixture to cool in the pan.
Roll out the pastry as described on the packet. Line a 23cm flan tin with the pastry. Pour the cooled rice mixture into the pastry-lined tin and sprinkle the currants over it. Bake in your preheated oven for about 35 minutes.
Delicious hot or cold!