I have always been a firm believer in keeping traditions alive. There is something beautiful and comforting about holding onto customs that have been passed down through generations. And when it comes to baking, there is no tradition quite as delicious as the Simnel cake.
What is a Simnel Cake?
The Simnel cake is a traditional British cake that is typically associated with Easter and Mothering Sunday. It is a rich fruit cake that is filled with marzipan and covered with a layer of marzipan icing. The cake has a long history, dating back to medieval times. It was originally made for the fourth Sunday in Lent, when it was customary for families to visit their “mother” church.
The Simnel cake is steeped in tradition and symbolism. It is adorned with 11 marzipan balls on top, which are said to represent the 12 apostles minus Judas. The cake is also often decorated with flowers or other symbols of spring. It is a beautiful and meaningful cake that brings joy to any Easter celebration.
Adding Alcohol to Your Simnel Cake
While the traditional Simnel cake is already delicious on its own, I love to add a touch of alcohol to mine to give it an extra kick. It adds a depth of flavor and richness that is truly irresistible. There are many different types of alcohol that can be added to a Simnel cake, but my personal favorite is brandy.
The brandy adds a warmth and complexity to the cake that perfectly complements the fruity flavors of the dried fruit. It also helps to keep the cake moist and tender, ensuring that it stays fresh for longer. I find that a subtle hint of brandy truly takes this traditional cake to the next level.
The Perfect Simnel Cake Recipe
Now that we’ve talked about the tradition and the addition of alcohol, let’s dive into the recipe itself. Here is my tried and true recipe for a delicious and irresistible Simnel cake:
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 250g light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 250g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 250g mixed dried fruit (such as currants, sultanas, and raisins)
- 50g chopped candied peel
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 orange
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 500g marzipan
- Apricot jam, for glazing
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F) and grease and line a 20cm (8in) round cake tin.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Sift in the self-raising flour and mixed spice, and fold gently until just combined.
- Add the dried fruit, candied peel, lemon zest, orange zest, and brandy. Stir until everything is well incorporated.
- Transfer half of the cake batter into the prepared cake tin.
- Roll out 300g of the marzipan into a circle that is slightly smaller than the cake tin and place it on top of the batter in the tin.
- Top with the remaining cake batter and smooth the top with a spatula.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 2-2.5 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin before removing and transferring to a wire rack.
- Once the cake has cooled, roll out the remaining marzipan and cut out a circle to fit the top of the cake. Gently heat the apricot jam in a saucepan and brush it onto the top of the cake.
- Place the marzipan circle on top of the cake and use your hands to smooth it down and remove any air bubbles.
- For a final touch, lightly dust the top of the cake with icing sugar.
And there you have it – a delicious Simnel cake that is enhanced with a touch of brandy. It is the perfect combination of tradition and indulgence. So go ahead, give this recipe a try and add a little bit of alcohol to your Easter celebrations. Cheers to tradition!
Remember to savor every bite of this delicious cake and cherish the memories it brings. It’s not just a dessert; it’s a piece of history and a symbol of love and family. So gather your loved ones, slice into this delectable treat, and create new traditions that will last for years to come. Happy baking!