Springtime baking – planning ahead for Mother’s Day and Easter 2011
At last, there are definite signs of spring. The days are staying lighter for longer and on my way to work yesterday I noticed a lovely group of Snowdrops on the roadside; happy little flowers poking above the green grass an absolute joy to see! Another few weeks and the clocks will go forward one hour as we spring into British Summer Time! It’s so lovely to think that we will soon emerge from the dark days of winter don’t you think?
Springtime brings with it a couple of annual festivals that just beg to be celebrated with a cake or two and will allow you to run riot with colourful icing and decorations – I am of course, looking ahead to Mothering Sunday (UK, April 3rd) and Easter Sunday (April 24th).
So what to bake? Well oddly enough Simnel Cake is a light fruit cake with connections to both events. Historically, girls in domestic service would bake the cake and take it home on Mothering Sunday when they enjoyed a rare day off. Nowadays, of course, it’s more strongly associated with Easter time celebrations, when the addition of the 11 marzipan balls represents the Disciples of Jesus.
One of my favourite recipes for Simnel Cake is that of The Domestic Goddess herself, Nigella Lawson (see the recipe here), and I’m planning to make one for my own Mother and Mother-in-law when we’re all together at Easter and I’ll post pictures here in a few weeks time. I may also make some of these Simnel cupcakes, which I tried for the first time last year and were a great success, topped with scrumptious little Mini Eggs and orange flavoured “runny icing”.
Even if you don’t celebrate this Christian festival, I expect those of you living in the UK will still appreciate the long Bank Holiday that comes with it and I hope you will feel inspired to make some lovely Springtime decorated cupcakes and bakes of your own to enjoy during the long weekend with your family.
PS: when you’re making Simnel Cake, you may find it’s one of those rare occasions when the man in your life may volunteer to help! Why? Well one of the last things to do is to wash the marzipan topping with egg white and then get out the blow torch to give the marzipan a slightly scorched, burnished finish – a very “Nigella” style flourish and something my hubby likes to do for me with great aplomb!