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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mothering Sunday and Simnel Cake Recipe

Mothering Sunday is celebrated by Catholic and protestant Christians. It is always the fourth Sunday of Lent (exactly 3 weeks before Easter) Its function is to honor mothers and to give them presents. In the U.K it is celebrated as Mother's Day.

Mothering Sunday was celebrated as far back as the sixteenth century. It was during that time that individuals would travel back to their mother church for a service to be held on Laetare Sunday. The mother church was either where you were baptized or the local parish church or nearest cathedral. The individuals who traveled back was often said to have "a-mothering"

Domestic servants were given the day off so that they could visit their mother church. They often attended church this sunday with their own mothers and family members. This was often the only time that families could gather together at church. Childern would pick wild flowers to place in the church or give to their mothers.

Mothering Sunday soon lost its meaning in the early 1900s. However World War II would bring back Mothering Sunday and by the 1950s it would take on more of a commercial approach.

One dish commonly served on Mothering Sunday is Simnel Cake

a deep, round 20cm (8in) cake tin

100g (4oz) red or natural glacé cherries
225g (8oz) butter, softened
225g (8oz) light muscovado sugar
4 large eggs 
225g (8oz) self-raising flour
225g (8oz) sultanas
100g (4oz) currants
50g (2oz) chopped candied peel
zest of 2 lemons
2 level tsp ground mixed spice

for the filling and topping:
450g (1lb) almond paste or marzipan
2 tbsp apricot jam
1 large egg, beaten, to glaze

Step One
Preheat the oven to 150°C/Fan 130°C/gas 2. Lightly grease the tin then line the base and sides with non-stick baking parchment.
Step Two
Cut the cherries into quarters, put in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well then dry thoroughly with kitchen paper. Measure all the cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat well until thoroughly blended. Place half the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.
Step Three
Take one-third of the almond paste and roll it out to a circle the size of the tin and then place on top of the cake mixture.Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.
Step Four
Bake for about 2½ hours until well risen, evenly brown and firm to the touch. Cover with foil after 1 hour if the top is browning too quickly. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Step Five
When the cake is cool, brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam and roll out half the remaining almond paste to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate. Mark a criss-cross pattern on the almond paste with a sharp knife. Form the remaining almond paste into 11 balls.Brush the almond paste with beaten egg and arrange the almond paste balls around the edge of the cake. Brush the tops of the balls with beaten egg, too, and then place the cake under a hot grill to turn the almond paste golden.
You can now buy good ready-made almond paste and marzipan, but if you want to make your own try this simple recipe,which makes 675g (1½lb) almond paste: mix 225g (8oz) ground almonds with 4 large egg yolks (or 2 whole large eggs) and 6 drops of almond extract. Knead to form a stiff paste, wrap in clingfilm and store in the fridge until required.

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