100g softened salted butter
100g soft brown sugar
a pinch of salt
350g of mixed currants and sultanas
a teaspoon of schwartz mixed spice powder
150g plain flour
50g roughly chopped mixed peel
the zest of 1 lemon
1-2 tbsp apricot or quince jam
Preheat your oven to 140C or Gas Mark 1.
Cream the softened butter and sugar together with a spatula or wooden spoon until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in three of the eggs and then sift in the flour, salt and spice a little at a time.
When well mixed, add the mixed peel, sultanas and lemon zest and give it all another stir.
Line and grease a 7inch cake tin. Roll out a circle of marzipan to the same size as the tin. This should use about 1 third of the marzipan.
Pour half the cake mix into the tin and then cover with the circle of marzipan. Now pour the the rest of the cake mixture on top of the marzipan.
Bake your simnel cake for 1½ hours and then allow it to cool.
Now preheat the oven to 180C or Gas Mark 3. Brush the top of the cooled cake with quince or apricot jam. Cover with another thin disk of Marzipan and decorate with 11 balls of marzipan (representing the 11 apostles)
Glaze the marzipan top with the last beaten egg and cook for a further ten
Simnel Cakes seems to date back to mid-medieval times. The origins of the word simnel are obscure but the best guess is that simnel comes from the latin word ‘simila’, which means a fine flour which is what was used to make simnel cakes. Both the French and the English baked simnel cakes on Sundays during Lent in the run up to Easter. In England the simnel cake was only baked on Mothering Sunday (the fourth Sunday in Lent) and was given as a mother's day gift.