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English Recipes

Traditional English Recipe - Simnel Cake

Traditionally eaten to break the Lenten fast

Materials Needed

18in round cake tin
Greaseproof paper


175 g (6 oz) butter
175 g (6 oz) sugar
3 beaten eggs
225 g (8 oz) plain flour
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
125 g (4 oz) glace cherries
50 g (2 oz) chopped mixed candied peel (zest)
250 g (9 oz) currants
125 g (4 oz) sultanas
450 g (1 lb) almond paste
A little milk if necessary


  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the eggs slowly.
  3. Fold in the flour and spices.
  4. Add the fruit and fold in.
  5. Add a teaspoon or two of milk if too firm.
  6. Line and grease an 18 cm (7 in) round cake tin.
  7. Roll out half the almond paste to a 16 cm circle.
  8. Spoon half of the cake mixture into the cake tin.
  9. Put the almond paste circle on top of the cake mixture
  10. Add the rest of the cake mixture.
  11. Bake until dark brown and firm.
  12. Once the cake is cool, roll out the rest of the almond paste into an 18 cm circle.
  13. Place the circle on top of the cake and brown quickly under a hot grill.


To bake: To cook in an oven.

To beat: To thoroughly combine ingredients and incorporate air with a rapid, circular motion. This may be done with a wooden spoon, wire whisk, rotary eggbeater, electric mixer or food processor.

To cream: To mix fats and sugar together until creamy in appearance.

To fold: A method of gently mixing ingredients. Usually egg whites or whipped cream are folded into a heavier mixture, for a souffle, cake, or pie filling. The lighter mixture is placed on top of the heavier mixture, then the two are combined by passing a spatula down through the mixture, across the bottom, and up over the top. This process continues until the mixtures are combined. This traps air into bubbles in the product, allowing baked goods to rise.

Zest: Sometimes known as peel or rind, the coloured outer layer of citrus rind eg lemon, orange or lime, that contains the essential oil that gives the fruit its distinctive flavour. A small amount of zest gives a strong characteristic flavour of the fruit..

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