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Keeping Simnel Cake

Asked by carriehiggs. Answered on 27th February 2016

Full question

Hi, I'm hoping to make Simnel Cake for Easter. Is it best to make this up to 12 weeks in advance like Christmas cake? How long does it last?

Cheers, Carrie

Our answer

Nigella's Simnel Cake (from FEAST and on the Nigella website here) is a traditional light fruit cake recipe. Whilst the cake is now associated with Easter, it was originally made in the UK for Mothering Sunday (the 4th Sunday in Lent and this year on Sunday, 6th March), by girls who worked and lived away from home. Consequently the cake was not made that far in advance. Also as it is a light fruit cake it will not keep as well as a rich fruit cake and does not need the ageing or feeding associated with a Christmas cake.

We would suggest that the cake should not be made more than a week in advance and you may want to add and finish the marzipan topping a day before serving. Wrap the cake, without the marzipan topping, in a double layer of baking parchment (parchment paper) and a layer of foil and store it in an airtight container in a cool place. The cake can also be frozen, without the topping, for up to 3 months, though there is a small risk that the marzipan in the centre becomes slightly soft and sticky when it is defrosted. To defrost the cake, unwrap it and leave it on a wire rack at room temperature for 5-6 hours. Add the marzipan topping only when the cake has come up to room temperature. Once the cake has the marzipan topping it should be stored in an airtight container in a cool place and eaten within 5 days.

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