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Thursday, 2 April 2015

EASTER SIMNEL CAKE

Good Afternoon to you,


EASTER WEEK

'See the land, her Easter keeping,
Rises as her Maker rose.
Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,
Burst at last from winter snows.
Earth with heaven above rejoices;
Fields and gardens hail the spring;
Shaughs and woodlands ring with voices,
While the wild birds build and sing.'

Charles Kingsley

I love it when Easter arrives, because I know, in the not too distant future, my garden will be full of colour once again. 

The nesting boxes, which George made, will soon be filled with nesting birds, which is always exciting and today I wandered around my garden, to see what, if anything, was growing. To my surprise, I noticed the tiniest of leaves forming on some of the roses, also my honeysuckle is beginning to make headway. I also have Bluebells pushing through the soil ..... not much longer to wait before I have a riot of colour in my garden.

.... and what a treat it will be, when I am able to sit in the garden once more.  To be able to turn my face towards the warm spring sun and enjoy the feeling of warm sunshine on my face. I cannot wait, 

..... I just need to be patient for a little while longer.

I mentioned last week that I was making an Easter cake today,  so I thought I would share with you a cake, which I often make at Easter time,



and one which George loves..... a Simnel Cake.

Simnel Cake, is a traditional Easter cake, but I am not sure if it is made so much nowadays. The ingredients included in the cake, are ingredients, which were forbidden during Lent.  The twelve marzipan balls represent Christ's twelve apostles, some say eleven marzipan balls should be added to the cake (excluding Judas) and others feel that thirteen should be added to include Christ.

Originally Simnel cakes were made for Mothering Sunday. Working children  would be given time off to visit their mothers, taking with them, the gift of a Simnel cake.

I am looking forward to making this Simnel Cake as I love tradition and I love old recipes which I can tweek and enjoy today.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to is,



the wonderful Ella Fitzgerald. Ella's voice is beautiful and I can listen to her sing at any time of the day.

Because it is Spring, enjoy,


'Spring is Here'
and
'The Lady is a Tramp'
and
'My Romance'

While I listen to 'With a Song in My Heart' I will gather my ingredients together.

INGREDIENTS
YOU WILL NEED
TO
MAKE
AN
EASTER SIMNEL CAKE

The Cake

225g self raising flour
225g unsalted butter
225g dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
200g glace cherries
100g currants
175g sultanas
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of flour to toss the cherries

The Topping

100g marzipan
1 tablespoon of apricot jam

Pre-heat the oven to 160C
You will need a 20cm cake tin
and 
some parchment paper.

HOW 
TO
MAKE
AN
EASTER SIMNEL CAKE


Butter and line 
a
20cm cake tin
with parchment paper.


Sift together
the
flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
and
salt.
Set aside for the moment.


Cream
the
butter and brown sugar
until pale in colour.
This took 5 minutes using
my KitchenAid.


Whisk the eggs together
and


gradually add
a quarter of the whisked eggs
to the butter and sugar
and then
a tablespoon of the sieved flour.
(This prevents the mixture from curdling.)
Mix the ingredients together.

Continue in this way until
all the eggs have been added.

Then,
gently fold in the remaining  flour.


Fold in the
currants and sultanas.


Place a tablespoon of flour
into a dish.
Cut the glace cherries in half
and
toss the cherries in the flour
(this prevents the cherries from 
sinking to the bottom of the cake)
then
add
the cherries
 to the mixture.
(Not the surplus flour)


Make sure all the ingredients
are 
incorporated.



Spoon the mixture
into the prepared cake tin.
Make sure the surface is even.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes
or
until the cake is thoroughly cooked.
I use a cake prodder to make sure the cake
is cooked.
 I start checking the cake when it has been
baking for 1 hour 15 minutes.
If the cake browns too quickly, place
some parchment paper or tin foil
on top of the cake to prevent it from browning
even more.

When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven
 and cool in the cake tin
for 15 minutes.
Then
remove the cake from the cake tin
and
place on a cake rack to cool.

While the cake is cooling,



Remove a quarter of
the marzipan from the block
and set aside for the moment.




Roll out the remaining marzipan.

Using the base of
the cake tin as a guide,
cut out a 20cm circle 
from the marzipan.



With the remaining
marzipan
and using your hands,
roll out 12 marzipan balls.

Set aside for the moment.



When the cake has cooled,
brush the top of the cake
with apricot jam.



Place the 20cm circle of
marzipan on top of the cake.
Arrange the marzipan balls
around the outside.
I brush a little of the apricot jam
 at the base of each
marzipan ball.
This helps them to stay in place.



..... now you have free reign
to decorate the cake 
as you wish.


I think I have mentioned before that I collect old cookery books and I noticed in many of the 1950's cookery books, much more marzipan was added to the cake. 

I discovered that half the cake mixture was spooned into the cake tin, then a circle of marzipan was rolled out and placed on top of the cake mixture, then the rest of the cake mixture was spooned on top of the marzipan. The cake was then baked in the usual way. After baking, the top of the cake was still decorated with a circle of marzipan and marzipan balls.  

The other interesting thing I noticed, was once the top of the Simnel cake had been covered with marzipan, the cake was placed under a grill, so that the marzipan and the marzipan balls were brown in colour.

So if you fancy an alternative, there are another couple of options for you to try.

My Easter cake is ready and all that is left for me to do, is to make some chocolate cupcakes for George's nephew, as he prefers cupcakes to chocolate Easter eggs.

..... if cupcakes are what he wants, then cupcakes he shall have.

Have a wonderful Easter and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,







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