About the Simnel Cake
The Simnel Cake kit contains Delica beads, round beads, flower beads and thread. This recipe is made using Peyote stitch. The finished cake measures approximately 8cm (3″) across the base. Suitable for intermediate to advanced beaders.
I designed the Simnel cake as an experiment in playing with Peyote stitch shapes… Well, partly that and partly just because I wanted to make a Simnel cake. It was one of my Dad’s favourites!
If you’ve never had a Simnel cake, then I should probably start by explaining a little about it. It is basically a fruit cake with marzipan on top and decorated with marzipan balls (traditionally). I know there are variations, but the traditional type that my Mum used to make was special. It contained a layer of marzipan baked into the centre of the cake. The trick was keeping the marzipan horizontally across the centre, so when the cake is cut, you can see the line of marzipan.
I say ‘trick’, but I seem to recall that a lot of ‘luck’ is also involved. I think the science behind a successful Simnel Cake probably has something to do with the consistency of the cake mixture and the temperature of the oven. However, I’m not a baker (unless you count the beaded cakes), so if you really need some recipe advice, then I can recommend Mary Berry for that!
I digress…back to the beaded Simnel cake. The point about this cake is that its special feature, the marzipan in the middle, is only apparent when the cake has been cut. So, in bead design terms, this left me with a couple of options… The easy option, to just make a slice of cake, or the harder option.
There’s nothing wrong with easy options and I did make a slice of cake that is a lovely fridge magnet. However, I like a challenge, so I decided to go for the harder option as well – the whole Simnel cake, with a slice cut out of it.
How did I manage it? Well, it was a matter of combining different Peyote stitch shapes. So I wouldn’t recommend this kit to a complete beginner. However, if you feel happy with Peyote stitch (circular and tubular variations in particular), then you’ll have a lot fun here. If you want to make the cake, but feel less confident, then maybe my free Peyote stitch tutorial will help!
This project is a little akin to geometric bead-weaving. So, if you want a few more ideas in that field, you might like this blog. If you are intrigued to learn more about Simnel cake, then the pattern in Sweet Treats book includes a little history of this cake and the traditions it embodies.