The simnel cake has become rather trendy at Easter, with articles extolling the virtues of layers of fruit, marzipan or almond paste and yellow icing, but does anyone other than food bloggers and the most dedicated of amateur bakers ever actually make one?
It looks very pretty, but like Christmas cake, I fear that look is all people will do and the richness of the recipe will deter guests from eating enough of it to save it from either being handed around the office or filling space in the bin.
Apparently, in medieval times the cake was symbolic of the changing seasons, celebrating the coming spring harvests. I can think of a far simpler way to herald the arrival of spring, with a humble crumble served up for Easter dinner dessert.
Affordable, and guaranteed to be eaten up, the crumble is one of the best dishes to showcase the fantastic flavour of British fruit. It’s not fashionable, there’s no opportunity to get creative with an icing bag and glitter, but it is always a winner in the eating stakes.
While we still have to wait for plums, the season starts in July; there should still be Conference pears and plenty of apple varieties to use. Although through storage and planting we can buy British apples practically all year round, I still cannot wait for the taste of fresh off the tree early fruit.
Recently I visited the orchards of one of the largest growers and suppliers of British apples and pears, A.C Goatham. The trees in this one were bare but in a few weeks they will blossom again and then fruit will appear, with harvesting taking place in July/August.
In the orchard’s farm shop one could buy Gala apples, just coming to the end of their season but still full of flavour and bite. All they need is a little poaching in milk to soften them up, then heaped into a dish with crumble mix generously sprinkled on top and popped into the oven for 20 minutes.
Out comes a gooey, chewy hot dessert that is perfect with ice cream. Little fuss, but plenty of taste and still room for a bit of Easter egg chocolate if you can snaffle some off one of the younger guests.