I’m not entirely sure what madcap idea took hold last week, but I decided to spend part of Good Friday baking Easter biscuits and Simnel Cake for M and G to enjoy. My experience of these 2 culinary delights is limited; I have had the odd Easter biscuit to eat in the past 30-odd years, but have to confess that I’ve never even nibbled at a slice of Simnel Cake. What possessed me to try my hand at a cake that I couldn’t pick out of a blind taste test, I have no idea, but I was inspired to produce adequate alternatives and let M and G try some traditional treats.
I expected Simnel cake to be my biggest challenge and decided to start researching a relatively easy recipe to adapt for M. To my surprise and absolute delight, my Google search uncovered this wonderful recipe for gluten-, dairy- and egg-free SImnel cake that was published in The Guardian newspaper on April 12th. I don’t think I have ever seen a recipe that is so allergy-friendly in the mainstream media and I couldn’t wait to start baking.
I was thrilled with the end result and decided to decorate it in a manner that dates back to the Victorian era. Traditionally, 11 balls of marzipan are rolled and used, with the story that these represent the 12 apostles minus Judas, though you can also use 12 marzipan balls for Jesus, the 12 apostles minus Judas. In trying to understand the meaning behind this decoration, I discovered that Simnel cake was traditionally baked on the middle Sunday of Lent, which is also Mothering Sunday in the UK, and allows a relaxing of the 40-day fast typically followed during Lent.
First item ticked off the list and it was time to move on to the Easter biscuits. Having grown up in the West Country, I decided to use another traditional recipe and use Cassia Oil to flavour these delicate biscuits, instead of the usual mix of cinnamon and mixed spice. Thanks to the amazing blog, Alimentary Bites, I was presented with not just one recipe, but 2 to choose from. I picked one at random, made a few minor adjustments to accommodate M’s dietary needs and whipped up a batch for the children to try. There’s nothing to match the delicious smell of home-baking filling the house and G and M quickly gathered around the oven to make their claim as the biscuits emerged from the oven.
All in all, a winning baking session and 2 more recipes to add to my M-friendly repetoire. Both biscuits and cake were delicious, scored full marks from my discerning duo and disappeared quickly over the Easter weekend. Children and adults alike complimented me on the flavour of these goodies and I’m thrilled to have successfully navigated another festival with some wonderful and safe treats.