Next Sunday is Mothering Sunday and is also known as Simnel Sunday or Refreshment Sunday.It…
Simnel Muffins have all the flavour of a classic Simnel cake but are quicker to make. These lightly spiced muffins with a marzipan layer make a perfect Easter treat. Why not slip a couple into your lunchbox and enjoy this traditional British Easter cake on the go?
What is a Simnel cake?
Traditionally a Simnel cake is a light fruit cake full of raisins, sultanas and lemon zest. It also has two layers of marzipan or almond paste. One layer runs through the middle of the cake and the other tops it. Eleven lightly toasted marzipan balls decorate the rim of the cake. These represent Jesus’ disciples, minus Judas who betrayed Jesus.
History of the Simnel cake
Any traditional cake has a number of different stories about its origins. We know the Simnel cake is associated with Springtime. This is a time of sunshine and colour. The flowers are blooming and mornings are lighter. You may even catch a glimpse of bird gathering twigs as they build their nests.
The world is coming back to life. According to Anglo-Saxon tradition Spring arrives because the Goddess of Spring, Eostre, returns to Earth. What better way to welcome an old friend back than a nice cake?
Traditionally Simnel cakes were given as gifts to mums on Mothering Sunday. Girls in domestic service had this day off and would bake a simnel cake to take home to their mothers.
Today a Simnel cake is usually eaten at Easter.
Simnel cake is delicious but fruit cake does take a while to make. These Simnel muffins give you all the taste of a Simnel cake in less time. They are perfect if you are having a large family gathering or and Easter party.
They have a similar taste to a light fruit cake. When you bite into them you will find a layer of marzipan which is a nice surprise.
What ingredients do I need for Simnel muffins?
These are the ingredients you need to make Simnel muffins. Don’t forget to scroll down to get the complete printable recipe.
- Flour, Butter, Eggs and Sugar – These ingredients are used in most bakes and Simnel muffins are no exception. You need self-raising flour so the muffins will rise.
- Mixed fruit – Simnel cake is a fruit cake so you need fruit. Mixed fruit is a good mix of sultanas and raisins that work well.
- An orange – the juice and zest add a lovely citrus zing to the muffins.
- Milk – gives the batter a smoother texture.
- Spices– Cinnamon and mixed spice give the muffins their distinctive flavour.
- Marzipan or almond paste – adds the layer of marzipan to the middle of the muffin.
How do you make Simnel muffins?
These are the steps to make Simnel muffins. They are really easy to make and well worth the effort.
Soak the fruit: Mix the dried fruit with the orange juice in a bowl. Leave this to soak for an hour so the fruit absorbs the orange flavour.
Preheat the oven: This allows you to put the muffins straight into the oven when you have made them. Set it to 180C, gas mark 4
Cream the butter and sugar: Leave the butter out of the fridge before hand so it is softer. This makes it easier to get the mixture fluffy.
Add the milk, flour, eggs and spices: Mix together until you get a smooth batter
Stir in the fruit: Make sure it is distributed evenly
Put into muffin cases: Half fill the muffin case with the batter. Divide the marzipan into twelve pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and squash. Put the marzipan on top of the batter and then add more batter on top.
Bake: Put in the oven for thirty minutes.
Can I make Simnel muffins with the kids?
Simnel muffins are perfect for making with kids. They will enjoy mixing up the batter and rolling the marzipan into balls. Just ensure you have soaked the fruit in the orange juice ahead of time so they don’t get bored waiting.
When the muffins are ready your kids will enjoy decorating them. You could use marzipan like a traditional Simnel cake. Alternatively make some butter icing and bring out some cake decorations or mini eggs to put on the top. You may find that they eat more of the decorations than they use.
Simnel Muffins Recipe
- 250 g mixed dried fruit
- zest and juice of one orange
- 175 g butter
- 175 g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 300 g self raising flour
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 5 tbsp milk
- 200 g marzipan
- Mix the dried fruit with the orange juice and zest in a bowl and leave to soak for an hour
- Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4
- Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy
- Add the eggs, flour, nilk and spices and mix until smooth.
- Stir the fruit into the mixture
- Half fill the muffin cases with the batter.
- Divide the marzipan into 12 equal sized pieces
- Roll each piece into a ball and squash flat
- Place on top of the muffin batter
- Add the remaining batter on top of the marzipan in each muffin case
- Bake for thirty minutes until risen and golden
- Leave to cool and decorate
Why not pin the recipe for later?
What are you baking this Easter? Let me know below.