ANTIQUE recipe author Pat Matthews is cooking up a storm this Easter — and hopes others will do the same.

Mrs Matthews, aged 68, has made a simnel cake based on her Grandma Sarah's recipe from 100 years ago, to encourage families in Bolton to enjoy making it together this weekend.

Her book, Grandma's Antique Recipes, was released last year and is based on a century-old book by Sarah Matthews, who noted down all her recipes for cakes, cures, medicines, furniture polishes and handy hints until her death in 1970.

Her great-granddaughter in law, Mrs Matthews, has since picked up where she left off and hopes to carry on her legacy in her memory.

Mrs Matthews, of Longfield Road, said: "I love simnel cake — it's delicious, such a nice recipe. I even make it at Christmas rather than a traditional fruit cake.

"It is always traditionally eaten at Easter, although in medieval times young women would bake the fruit cake to give to their mum for the rare visits home on Mothering Sunday.

"The simnel cake marked the end of the 40 days of lent on the Christian calendar and the celebration of Easter time.

"For those who are religious, it is also very symbolic. The 11 marzipan balls, or figures, placed around the edge of the cake represent the 11 Disciples of Christ. As Judas Iscariot betrayed him, he is missed out. The larger ball in the centre signifies Jesus.

"This is based on Grandma Sarah's recipe — all I have done is converted the amounts from imperial to metric. It's the perfect sweet to have at the end of an Easter meal with the family."

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100g/4oz glacé cherries

225g/8oz butter/or (I can’t believe it’s butter) room temperature

225g/8oz light brown sugar

4 large eggs

225g/8oz self-raising flour

225g/8oz sultanas

100g/4oz currants

50g/2oz chopped candied peel, or 500g of good quality mixed fruit

2 lemons, grated zest only

2 tsp ground mixed spice,

1 tsp cinnamon

For the filling and topping:

450g/1lb marzipan

1-2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed


1. Preheat the oven to 150C/280F/Gas

2. Grease and line a 20cm/ 8in cake tin. Make sure that the tin is well greased with butter and well lined with greaseproof paper.

3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

4. Slowly beat in the eggs and mix well.

5. Divide the amount of flour into two, and in one half of the flour mix in the fruit until all the fruit has a coating of flour, this will helps stop the fruit from sinking to the bottom.

6. Add the rest of the flour and fruit and mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated.

7. Using a third of the almond past, roll out to form a circle, the size of the tin.

Into the tin, spoon half the cake mixture, and cover the cake mix with the layer of almond paste.

Add the remaining mixture, making sure that it is evenly spread, leave a little dip in the centre to allow the cake to rise evenly.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 2½ hours, or until well risen evenly brown, and firm to the touch.

After 1hr if the top is browning too quickly, cover with aluminium foil to stop the cake from over cooking.

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out, peel off the greaseproof paper and finish cooling on a wire rack.

When the cake is cool, brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam and roll out half the remaining marzipan to fit the top.

Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate.

Form the remaining marzipan into 12 balls.

Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the marzipan balls around the edge of the cake and one in the middle.

Brush the tops of the balls with beaten egg and then carefully place the cake under a hot grill or use a chefs torch until the top of the cake its lightly toasted.