Traditional British Mothering Sunday Simnel Cake

Recipe by French Tart
READY IN: 2hrs




  • CHECK LIST: a sifter, nest of bowls, food processor or electric beater, spatula, wooden spoon, 24 cm round cake tin, baking paper, brown paper and twine, rolling pin, thin metal skewer.
  • STAGE 1.
  • To make your own almond paste you will need a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Don't be tempted to use store-bought almond paste because it contains lots of sugar and few almonds, it will turn to liquid under the grill.
  • Place icing sugar and almonds in food processor bowl. Process, slowly dripping in egg yolk, orange juice and almond essence. The mixture should form a pliable paste.
  • Set aside a small portion for balls with which to decorate the cake.
  • Roll out the remaining paste into 2 circles which are the approximate size of the tin. Set aside.
  • STAGE 2.
  • Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F.
  • Use a sturdy non-stick cake tub or line the buttered base with baking paper. As the baking period is long (1-1 1/2 hours), prevent the cake drying out by wrapping a double thickness of brown paper around the pan and securing it with twine.
  • Sift flour, salt and spices together, then stir in fruit and peel.
  • Cream butter and sugar thoroughly until light and creamy then beat in eggs one at a time, until the mixture is fluffy. (Reserve a drop of egg yolk for brushing over top layer of almond paste.).
  • Stir flour and fruit into creamed mixture (you may need to add a little milk to give the mixture a dropping consistency).
  • STAGE 3.
  • Place half the mixture into a greased and lined cake tin.
  • Place one pre-rolled round of almond paste over the top.
  • Cover with remaining cake mixture. Before baking the cake, give the pan of mixture a sharp tap on to a firm surface. This settles the mixture and prevents holes from forming in the cake.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 1-1 1/4 hours or until a thin metal skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out without a trace of stickiness.
  • Level the cake by placing a weighted plate on top of the cooked cake while it is still hot.
  • Turn out cake on to a wire rack after leaving it to settle in the cake tin for between 10 and 15 minutes. Peel off paper and leave to cool completely.
  • STAGE 4.
  • Cover the top of the cake with a second round of almond paste. Roll 11 small balls of paste and place evenly around the top of the cake. Brush the top with a little beaten egg and very lightly brown under the grill until the almond paste turns light golden brown.
  • Remove and leave to cool.