The Simnel cake is associated with Easter today, but was originally made for Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent. In the 17th century, Mothering Sunday became the day when girls and boys in service were allowed a day off to go and visit their mothers. This was their one and only holiday. The girls would bake their mothers a Simnel cake as a gift.
Thus the baking of a Simnel cake for Mothering Sunday was not only a gift from a girl to her mother, but also a test of the girl's cooking skills. The cake would not be eaten until Easter Sunday, and the whole family would be anxious to see if the cake was still moist.
With the demise of service after the First World War, the Simnel cake began to be treated as an Easter cake in its own right. The cake is decorated with eleven marzipan balls, representing Jesus' disciples minus Judas the traitor. Originally it was also decorated with fresh flowers, but sugar flowers are often used today.
We'll be featuring our @DunbrodyHouse Simnel Cake on our Easter Afternoon Tea menu