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The Story of the Simnel Cake

The Simnel Cake tradition dates back to the 17th Century when boys and girls in service were given one day off to visit their Mums on Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent. To celebrate the daughters were expected to bake a Simnel Cake, said to be names after the Latin word ‘simila’ meaning very fine wheat flour. This light, fruity cake was made with a layer of marzipan to avoid drying out and was meant to last until Easter, when it should be eaten. It’s quality three weeks later was a test of the baker’s skills!
With the demise of service after the first World War, the Simnel Cake became more associated with Easter celebrations. 11 marzipan balls were added to the top of the cake representing Jesus’ apostles, minus Judas, the traitor and over time both fresh and sugared flowers were added to the decoration.
We have been making our Simnel Cake recipe for many years now, gaining best recommendations from Rachel Khoo, The Evening Standard, and The Independent among others. This year, we have a new decoration and have wrapped the large whole cake in a handy re-usable tin. But rest assured it is the same recipe, with a hand toasted marzipan topping. And if you can’t wait for Easter, then pick up a box of minis to snack on with your afternoon tea.
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