This year on Mother’s Day I decided to try my hand at making a traditional Mother’s Day cake. I don’t recall ever making a cake before traditional or otherwise. It was a rather last minute decision, made in the early hours of the morning when I could not sleep and I was thinking of something to take home to my mother later that evening. It occurred to me that the most obvious would be to make a cake! So I did a quick search on Google to find out what type of cakes are baked for Mother ’s Day. I recalled reading many years ago that there was a cake that children would make to take home to their mother’s. It did take long to find out that Simnel cake it the Mother’s Day cake. It’s also the cake of Easter. It’s essentially a a spiced fruit cake containing and topped with marzipan. I found a recipe on the BBC Goodfood website which seemed simple enough. I didn’t have all the ingredients or the time but I did my best with what I had. I had a bag of sultanas and a bag of mixed dried fruit. I did not have brandy but I did have a bottle of Amaretto. I didn’t;t have any self-raising flour, so I used spelt flour with baking powder and salt.
• 16g sultanas
• 160g mixed fruit
• 2 lemons, 1 juiced and 2 zested
• 50ml orange juice
• 50ml amaretto
• 225g butter, softened
• 225g light muscovado sugar
• 4 medium eggs
• 225g spelt flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 2 tsp mixed spice
For the topping
• 500g yellow marzipan
• 1 tbsp apricot jam
• Put the sultanas, currants and mixed peel in a bowl with the lemon juice, orange juice, and brandy, if using. Mix well, cover and leave to soak overnight.
• Heat the oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line the base and sides of a 20cm round cake tin with baking parchment.
• Add the rest of the cake ingredients to the soaked fruit and stir until well combined. Spoon half of this mixture into the bottom of the cake tin and level it off so it’s as flat as possible. Roll a third of the marzipan into a circle 20cm diameter and put it on the top. Gently add the rest of the mixture, levelling the surface again.
• Bake for approximately 2½ hours until brown, well-risen and firm to the touch. A metal skewer should come out clean when inserted. Allow to cool for 20 mins in the tin and then turn out to cool on a wire rack.
• Warm the apricot jam in a small saucepan and brush on the top of the cake. Roll out half of the remaining marzipan to the size of the top of the cake.
I opted not to place , 11/12 marzipan balls on the top of the cake. They are meant to represent the 11 apostles and Jesus. Instead I thought it would be more appropriate for ‘write’ Happy Mother’s Day on the cake and decorate with a flower. I did try making rose
It was a semi-successful attempt! However I decided my rose was not quite right for the cake. So I opted for a petal type arrangement. Which initially did have a passing resemblance to a fried egg before I completed it!
The cake was delicious. It was really nice. It is very sweet. It is rich and fruity and the Amaretto just added this lovely, almond warmth throughout it. I have to confess I had about three slices. One, because it was just so addictive and secondly, actually I hadn’t had dinner, so I was quite hungry at that point. It was really nice to be able to share this with my mother and my brother, who also happens to be home that evening.
I have to say I’m finding Mother’s Day increasingly emotional as the years go by. There is the obvious fact that Mummy is getting older. And therefore, every year we get to celebrate birthdays Christmas it’s Mother’s Day so just a pure joy and blessing. Every year I get to find out a little bit more about my mother and understand the person that she is and I’m completely amazed. I mean I always have been in awe of my mother it almost goes without saying, however, I always find out a little tidbit of information and I think wow, you did that !
But there’s also the fact that I’m not a mother. And barring some kind of miracle I will never be. That leaves me in emotional carnage on these days. I feel that I’ve lost so much and it feels funny to lose something that you never had, but I certainly feel bereft. I always wanted to be a mother, when I was growing up, I didn’t expect that I would be anything else. I didn’t expect that it would be easy and I was always scared about whether I would be good or not, but it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be a mother. I had always had plans and conversations about how I would bring up a girl if I had a girl and how I would bring up a boy if I had a boy. And then life, events and biology conspired to ensure that this was not going to happen for me. At least not in the way that I had wanted it to happen.
There are, of course many ways to be a parent. There are other options. For me, for many reasons that just didn’t happen. So I do have an underlying perpetual sadness and feeling of a life unfulfilled and I clearly try and fill it up with other things and think about the blessings that I do have in my life. But it doesn’t make that yearning, and that need to go away.
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