so, i wanted to bake something traditional for easter and saw a segment on one of the morning tv shows on how to make simnel cake. when i delved a little bit further i found this about simnel cake on wikipedia...
Simnel cake is a light fruit cake, similar to a Christmas cake, covered in marzipan, and eaten at Easter in England and Ireland. A layer of marzipan or almond paste is also baked into the middle of the cake. On the top of the cake, around the edge, are eleven marzipan balls to represent the true apostles of Jesus; Judas is omitted. In some variations Christ is also represented, by a ball placed at the centre.
The cake is made from these ingredients: white flour, sugar, butter, eggs, fragrant spices, dried fruits, zest and candied peel.
Simnel cakes have been known since mediaeval times, and were originally a Mothering Sunday tradition, when young girls in service would make one to be taken home to their mothers on their day off. The word simnel probably derived from the Latin word simila, meaning fine, wheaten flour with which the cakes were made. A legend, however, attributes the cake's creation to the English pretender Lambert Simnel, who supposedly devised it during the time in which he was forced to work in Henry VII's kitchens.
we were supposed to save these for after easter lunch today but i went out for a walk and came back and was feeling a tad peckish, so in cahoots with my mum, we cut one up and tried it...oh, it was just delicious. oh, so, fruity and moist and just enough marzipan to enhance the whole flavour of the fruitcake. i loved it, but then i DO like fruitcake and yet i know that a lot of people are not big fans. but this, rather than tasting like rich christmas cake, reminded me more of christmas stollen - especially with that layer of marzipan in the middle. it was light fruitcake, not heavy and alcohol-laden. so good with a nice mug of tea and just delightfully fruuuuuuuuuity! Happy Easter!
Easter Simnel Cupcakes
150g/5oz Odlums Cream Plain Flour
125g/4oz Butter (room temperature)
125g/4oz Light Brown Sugar
3 Eggs (beaten)
1/2 teaspoon Mixed Spice
Grated Rind of a Lemon
1 tablespoon Brandy or Rum (optional)
500g packet Shamrock Luxury Fruit Mix (consisting of currants, raisins, candied peel, cherries)
2 tablespoons Apricot Jam to glaze cupcakes (i used marmalade and it was fine!)
2 x 250g packets of Almond Marzipan
Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5. Line muffin tins with paper cases.
Cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Gradually beat in the eggs.
Add flour, lemon rind and mixed spice. Gently stir until well combined.
Finally mix in the fruit and brandy or rum.
Divide half the mixture into the paper cases. Take half the marzipan, roll out and cut into circles, place onto the fruit.
Top marzipan circles with remaining mixture. Bake for about 25 minutes until risen and golden brown.
Meanwhile, roll out other half of marzipan and cut out 12 circles and shape out 11 balls.