Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mothering Sunday and Simmnel Cake

To all my Blogging friends in the UK, Happy Mother's Day.
My mother and I
shortly after my baptism
on Easter Even in 1945,
The origin of Mothering Sunday can be traced to the fact that in early times people in England as a tradition visited their nearest parish called, "Daughter Church" on every Sunday. Also, some children from poorer families, after the age of ten left, their homes for jobs as apprentice or domestic servants. It was considered important by the people that these children be allowed to visit their home and mother church once a year. Accordingly, once in a year, in the middle of the Lent the children were given a leave by their employers to visit their "Mother Church" or Cathedral of their hometown. These children also visited their homes brought along gifts, flowers and special cakes for their mothers. These visits thus became a time for family reunions and over a period time, this holiday meant for the return to Mother Church was stretched to include all mothers and was named as Mothering Sunday.

Mothering Sunday or Refreshment Sunday
Mothering Sunday was also known as Refreshment Sunday because the fasting rules for Lent were relaxed on that day. Besides both Old and New testament lessons on mid-Lent Sunday made a point of food. The Gospel reading from the New Testament told the story of how Jesus fed five thousand people with only five small barley loaves and two small fish. (John 6:10-12)

The most common treat of Mothering Sunday is Simnel Cake.
At our church in Lavenham, the ladies  brought Simmenl Cakes and made tea and coffee for after church. What a treat.   

Simnel Cake

 Simnel Cake is a special food item associated with Mothering Sunday. A Simnel cake is a rich fruit cake with a layer of almond paste on top and also in the middle. The cake is made with 11 balls of marzipan (a confection made of ground almonds or almond paste, egg whites and sugar, often molded into decorative shapes)  on top representing the 11 disciples (Judas is not included).

Cook time:
2 hrs 30 min

225g butter, softened
225g sugar
4 eggs
225g plain (all purpose) flour
225g sultanas
110g currants
110g glacé cherries, quartered (or any dried fruit)
grated zest of 2 oranges
grated zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
450g almond paste
2 tbsp apricot jam
1 egg, beaten


1. Pre-heat oven to 150°C /gas 2 (300℉)

2. Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, sultanas, currants, glace cherries, orange zest, lemon zest and spices in a large mixing bowl and beat together until thoroughly blended

3. Place half the mixture in a buttered and lined 20cm (7") deep round cake tin and level the surface.

4. Take one-third of the almond paste and roll it out into a circle the size of the tin. Place it on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture over and smooth the surface.

5. Bake the cake for about 2 hours 30 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch. Cover with foil after 1 hour if the top is browning too quickly. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6. When the cake has cooled, brush the top with the warmed apricot jam and roll out half of the remaining almond paste to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate.

7.  Form the remaining almond paste into 11 balls . Arrange the balls around the outside.

8. Preheat the grill (broiler). Place the cake under the preheated grill to turn the almond paste golden.

(This cake is even better made at least a week ahead and stored in a tightly closed tin.)


Geneva said...

That is a sweet picture of you and your mother, and I loved learning about the history of Mothering Sunday. Also, thank you for sharing the recipe for Simnel sounds wonderful. This was a very nice post.

Priscilla said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by and for following. I've been visiting your blog, and liked it so much that I'm your newest follower.

Sarah said...

Darling photo! I didn't know about Mothering Sunday or Simnel Cake. I always learn something new from you. Happy Mothering Sunday! ~ Sarah

Priscilla said...

I guess it's the "old teacher" thing. Just can't quit teaching.


I never knew this, but thanks for the information about Mothering Sunday, wow. I love your picture with your dear mother, such a treasure. Happy Mom's Sunday!


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