Catholic Recipe: Simnel Cake III
Toward the end of the Middle Ages the tradition developed in England that on the fourth Sunday of Lent boys and girls who lived away from home (as apprentices, servants, students, etc. ) were given permission to visit their home towns. There they dropped into the church for a short devotion and left a small gift on the altar. Then they went to their parents' house and brought their mothers a present in the form of a rich plum cake. Such a cake was called "simnel" (from the Latin simila: fine flour). From this observance the Sunday acquired the name "Mothering Sunday" and the journey of the young people was known as "going a-mothering."
On November 9, the church celebrates the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, called “mother and head of all the churches of the city and the world.” Since this is the "mother church" this is also a day for simnel cake.
Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Beat after adding each egg. Sift together flour and salt. Add to creamed mixture; mix well. Sprinkle raisins and diced fruit with flour. Fold into batter. Grease inside of deep, round cake tin. Pour in 1/2 of batter. Roll out almond paste to sheet the size of cake tin. Place almond paste on top of dough. Cover almond paste with remaining batter. Bake for 1 hour at 300°. Frost with thin confectioners' sugar glaze.Recipe Source: Catholic Cookbook, The by William I. Kaufman, The Citadel Press, New York, 1965