Can I persuade you away from the chocolate nests for just a moment to introduce the Simnel Cake - the new (for us) absolute *must* of an Easter treat. Easily identified by the ring of 11 balls on a frilly cover of yellow marzipan, this is a light, moist fruitcake to win hearts and prizes.
Back in the 19th century, the Simnel Cake was eaten during the middle of Lent, on Mothering Sunday - given by servant girls to their mothers. Thus we have a perfect excuse (if one is needed) to buy in the marzipan and bustle the children into the kitchen ‘for mummy’.
The recipe itself isn’t difficult to master - it’s one of those ‘bung into a large bowl’ methods, which makes it perfect for small hands to help create. The difference (the magic) is introduced with a layer of marzipan running through the middle of the cake - plus the layer on the top, decorated with 11 marzipan balls to represent the (faithful) apostles. No Judas on *our* cake.
The top is then brushed with egg wash and grilled to turn the marzipan golden. We foraged for some edible spring flowers to place on top - which you could crystallise if you were feeling ambitious and have an extra egg white to hand.
It really is a delicious cake, packed with fruit but without the dense weight of a Christmas cake. Ours lasted approx 2 days, which was a minor miracle as the children eat like horses despite being whippet-thin (how do they do this?). We have added the Simnel Cake to our repertoire and may not wait until next March before we make another. Happily, given it is traditional both on Mothering Sunday and Easter, we will have a further reason in just a few weeks time.
The recipe we used is by the wonderful Mary Berry from her Baking Bible -