The origin of Simnel cake dates back to medieval times. The word Simnel is thought to be derived from the Latin ‘smila’ meaning fine, wheaten flour from which the cakes were made. Each area seems to have its own shape, size and ingredients for the cake. They are similar to rich fruit Christmas cakes.

Simnel cakes are also believed to have been made to mark Mothers day. This was traditionally a day that servants and apprentices were given the day off to visit their families.

Simnel cakes are now eaten at Easter. They are decorated with a layer of almond paste (marzipan) and 11 marzipan balls to represent the eleven true disciples. The top is sometimes toasted to a gentle golden colour.

For the cake:

1tsp Mixed Spice

½ tsp Cinnamon (ground)

½ tsp Nutmeg (ground)

100g Demerara Sugar

100g Self-Raising Flour, sifted

100g Ground Almonds

1 tsp Baking Powder

150ml Olive Oil

50ml Soya Milk

1 Ripe Banana, mashed

1 Apple, grated

250g Mixed Dried Fruit

100g Glace Cherries, chopped

225g Marzipan (ensure it is vegan)

For the decoration:

450g Marzipan (ensure it is vegan)

2 – 3 tbsp of marmalade

Icing sugar for dusting

Method:

Heat the oven to 180°C (fan), 190°C or Gas Mark 3

Grease and line a 23 cm spring form cake tin

Into a large bowl add all the dry ingredients – mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, flour, ground almonds and baking powder and mix well

In a second bowl mix the olive oil and milk together well

Add the banana and apple to the liquid bowl and mix well

Slowly add the liquid to the dry ingredients, mix well

Add the dried fruit and cherries and stir to mix well

Place half of the cake mixture in the prepared baking tin

Roll out the marzipan to the size of the baking tin and place on top of the cake mixture

Add the remaining mixture

Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes or until cooked through and slightly browned.

Leave to cool in the tin

To decorate:

When cool remove the cake from the tin and place on a large plate

Divide the marzipan into two equal amounts

Roll out the first half to the size of the cake

Brush the top of the cake with the marmalade. Place the marzipan on and press down

Divide the remaining marzipan into 11 and shape into balls. Space equally around the edge of the cake

Place under a hot grill and brown the marzipan

Dust with icing sugar to serve

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