Simnel Cake and Mothering Sunday

Posted in All posts, March, on

It's wonderful that Spring is here, the slightly brighter mornings, and the marginally lengthier evenings, bring with them a lightness of spirit, and breath of joy.

Walking the dog becomes less of a chore, there's less need for a wooly hat, or  two pairs of socks in  boots, though gloves and scarves may still be required. The florist has been stocking bright, glorious Daffodils from Cornwall and the Scilly Isles for several weeks now, it's great to have these beautiful bursts of sunshiny yellow to brighten up our interiors. For me though, the real pleasure is seeing the snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils springing up outside; such tough, feisty flowers, they poke through despite the recurring cold snaps.

Sunday March 15th is Mothering Sunday (I prefer the old name, rather then Mother's Day!). A day to make sure we spoil our Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, our Mother's friends, or maybe an old School Teacher.

I rather like the idea of making a gift, and this year I'm taking my Mother a Simnel Cake. Like so many traditional recipes, the history of Simnel Cake is hazy, but I rather like the story which relates to household servants and estate workers going to visit their mothers on the middle Sunday of Lent. 

As Spring was on it's way the cooks wanted to clear their pantries of old, stored food, so they baked fruit cakes. The workers would take the cakes home as gifts for their mothers, who could  keep the cakes for Easter Sunday and the end of the Lenten fast.  They were baked with a layer of marzipan in the centre, and decorated with a disc of marzipan and eleven balls around the edge, these portrayed the apostles who remained faithful to Jesus throughout the Easter period. Some people put a larger ball of marzipan in the centre to represent Jesus himself. I prefer to use sugar paste flowers, I expect servants would have picked flowers, to decorate their cakes, from the hedgerows as they walked home to visit their families.

Are you making a gift for your Mother, or perhaps an old family friend? You may be too busy to bake a Simnel Cake but I'm sure a bunch of beautiful British grown daffodils would be a popular gift too...

As we progress towards Easter I'll be baking more Hot Cross Buns and Easter Biscuits, using Sarah Raven's delicious and reliable recipes. I wrote about them in this post from 2013,  An Easter in Brittany.

Enjoy the next few weeks of Spring.

Best Wishes,