Ireland History Today..

Old Irish Tradition: On Easter Saturday, one should take three sips of holy water to ensure good health.

Another Irish Tradition: “Simnel Cake” is a traditional Easter cake with a layer of almond paste baked into the center and a thick layer of almond icing on top. It is decorated with eleven little marzipan balls, representing eleven of the twelve apostles~~Judas is missing because he betrayed Jesus.

Simnel cake is a light fruit cake, similar to a Christmas cake, covered in marzipan, then toasted, and eaten during the Easter period in Great Britain, Ireland and some other countries. A layer of marzipan or almond paste is also baked into the middle of the cake. On the top of the cake, around the edge, are eleven marzipan balls to represent the true disciples Jesus; Judas is omitted. In some variations Christ is also represented, by a ball placed at the centre. 
The cake is made from these ingredients: white flour, sugar, butter, eggs, fragrant spices, dried fruits, zest and candied peel.
Simnel cakes have been known since medieval times, and were originally a Mothering Sundayin service would make one to be taken home to their mothers on their day off. The word tradition, when young girls simnel probably derived from the Latin word simila, meaning fine, wheaten flour with which the cakes were made.
Recipe for Simnel Cake

Ingredients

  • 225 g butter, softened
  • 225 g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225 g plain flour
  • 225 g sultanas
  • 110 g currants
  • 110 g glacé cherries, quartered
  • grated zest of 2 oranges
  • grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 450 g almond paste
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 egg, beaten 

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 150°C /gas 2.

2. Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, sultanas, currants, glace cherries, orange zest, lemon zest and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and beat together until thoroughly blended

3. Place half the mixture in a buttered and lined 20cm deep round cake tin and level the surface.

4. Take one-third of the almond paste and roll it out into a circle the size of the tin. Place it on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture over and smooth the surface.

5. Bake the cake for about 2 hours 30 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch. Cover with foil after 1 hour if the top is browning too quickly. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6. When the cake has cooled, brush the top with the warmed apricot jam and roll out half of the remaining almond paste to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate.

7. Mark a criss-cross pattern on the almond paste with a sharp knife. Form the remaining almond paste into 12 balls (to represent the 12 apostles). Arrange the balls around the outside.

8. Preheat the grill. Place the cake under the preheated grill to turn the almond paste golden.

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