Sunday, 22 March 2009

Plane spotting

Today is Mother’s Day. At least, it is back in the UK. Never mind.

I showed my Mama & Me group how to make Simnel Cake on Wednesday. I’d wanted to introduce the Easter story into our session, and the timing was perfect for this week as this cake is traditionally made by girls to give to their mothers on Mothering Sunday. It was thrown together very hurriedly (8 mums and 10 kids crammed into our living room, M screaming for the entire duration), so not as pretty as it should be:

I did toy with the idea of sending it to my MIL as a ‘thank you’ for looking after M and J last Saturday, however I really wanted the mums to try a piece (and there was none left by the end of the day!).

Simnel Cake

Almond Paste:
175g icing sugar
175g ground almonds
175g caster sugar
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
vanilla or almond essence
juice of half a lemon

175g soft butter or margarine
175g light soft brown sugar
3 eggs
175g flour
3 level teaspoons mixed spice
1 level teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
275g mixed dried fruit
50g glace cherries, coarsely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
50g ground almonds

1 egg white

First, make the almond paste. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl, then stir in the ground almonds and caster sugar. Add the egg yolks and essence, then add the lemon juice until you can work it into a smooth ball.

Cream together the butter and sugar, then stir in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Place half the mixture in a prepared cake tin and smooth the top.
Take 1/3 of the almond paste and roll out to a circle the size of the tin, then place on top of the cake mixture. Cover with the remaining cake mixture and smooth the top. Bake at 160c for about135 minutes, or until cooked through.
Turn out; remove the paper and leave to cool.
Brush the top of the cake with honey. Take 1/3 of the almond paste and roll into a circle to fit the top of the cake. Press in place and pinch the edges.
Shape the remaining paste into 11 small balls and arrange around the edge of the cake. Brush with a little egg white, then bake at 220c for 2 - 3 minutes to lightly brown the almond paste. Leave to cool.

On Friday K had a day off work (national holiday) and we took the children to Kodomo no Kuni, a cool park on a mountain plateau right next to Takamatsu airport. The runway is only a few hundred yards away from the play area, separated only by a 6 foot wire fence with a bit of barbed wire at the top (yes, it’s an international airport – well, domestic and Korea, but still…), so it’s a paradise for plane spotters and potential terrorists. There's a bike circuit with all kinds of funky vehicles to ride, the children (all four of them) had a great time:

J and W decided to try and race a plane taking off:


  1. Okay.. I totally love the title!!! Woo Hoo! The cake... you threw me back, you made your own almond paste!.. You have skills!!!! The hubs and darling kids look like they are having such a blast!!!!! Can I have a piece? (of cake)!

  2. Hi GJ! Hahaha, the cake had all gone by the evening - ooops! Oh, almond paste is a doddle to make, and tastes soooo much better than the bought stuff. xxx

  3. Man.. it is all gone... You know what I have to get my bum moving on the Daring Bakers.. EEKKKK You'll have to share the recipe with me = ) and the cake recipe...

  4. That looks divine and you know I had no idea of the tradition of the Simnel cake. I wonder if my mum has been waiting for a cake from me all these years? hehe ;)

  5. What a nice cake looks delicious. I love almond paste. The kids are so cute :)

  6. Oh I need to get cooking. Saw a recipe this weekend for really cute individual simnel cakes - cooked in baked bean tins!!! I might give it a go as they would make great presents. Caroline