Simnel Cake is a fruit cake with lots of religious connotations and traditional values too.

Lots of people eat Simnel Cake at Easter time and decorate it with candied flowers or miniature eggs (usually 11 decorations to represent Jesus’ 11 loyal disciples) but it was also made on Mothering Sunday by daughters to prove their baking skills and is sometimes made on the final Sunday of Lent.

This recipe makes one large cake but if you are entertaining your grandchildren and want them to try something a little bit different, you can divide the mixture into muffin cases to make cupcakes and use the marzipan to decorate the top.

simnel cake

Ingredients:

  • 225 g butter, softened
  • 225 g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225 g plain flour
  • 225 g sultanas
  • 110 g currants
  • 110 g glacé cherries, quartered
  • grated zest of 2 oranges grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 450 g almond paste
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 150°C /gas 2.
2. Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, sultanas, currants, glace cherries, orange zest, lemon zest and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and beat together until thoroughly blended
3. Place half the mixture in a buttered and lined 20cm deep round cake tin and level the surface.
4. Take one-third of the almond paste and roll it out into a circle the size of the tin. Place it on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture over and smooth the surface.
5. Bake the cake for about 2 hours 30 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch. Cover with foil after 1 hour if the top is browning too quickly. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
6. When the cake has cooled, brush the top with the warmed apricot jam and roll out half of the remaining almond paste to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate.
7. Mark a criss-cross pattern on the almond paste with a sharp knife. Form the remaining almond paste into 11 balls or eggs (to represent the 11 apostles). Arrange the balls around the outside.
8. Preheat the grill. Place the cake under the preheated grill to turn the almond paste golden.

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As it is the Easter weekend, it would be rude not to talk about chocolate eggs! Here are some of our favourite chocolate eggs from years gone by and what they look like now…

Do you remember when the Smarties Easter eggs looked like this?

Example of Smarties Easter egg from the 70s to 90s

You used to get a free cup with the egg and a member of the Bath-Knight team still has her cup from when she was little!

The packaging has changed a lot in 20-or-so years and you no longer get a lovely mug with your egg but the chocolate is still delicious!

A modern version of the Smarties Easter Egg

What about Cadbury Crème Eggs? They used to be a little bit bigger many years ago as well as costing a lot less but they are still a firm favourite with many children and grownups.

Cadbury's Creme Egg from the 90s

The packaging has not changed much but there is a clear size difference. Does anyone still have an old Crème Egg or a Fry’s Crème Egg to compare?

Mini Eggs have even had a bit of a makeover in the last few years too.

Retro Mini Eggs Packaging

Although now, they are still a similar size but you get a lot less in the bag!

Cadbury Mini Eggs

It is not just Easter eggs that have changed over the years either; chocolate bars have also decreased in size but have had an increase in price.

When Snickers used to be called a Marathon Bar, it was just 4 pence and it was quite a bit bigger too. The same goes for Topics, Milky Bars, Mars Bars and Cadbury Dairy Milk.

Marathon was the old name of Snickers

The main reason for chocolate becoming expensive is that the cacao plant that is used to grow the cocoa beans can only grow in a very hot climate but due to bad weather conditions across the world, this has had a terrible effect on the crops. This has then put a strain on farmers and their resources so the price of cocoa has been rising for the last few years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Retro packaging for Topic chocolate bars

Have you noticed the difference in size of your favourite chocolate bars? Or is a chocolate bar from your childhood no longer available?

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We have blogged many times about the importance of budgeting and how to make the most of your basic pension. This time, we have shared our hints and tips on the world-famous forum for grandmothers; Gransnet.

How to budget

Gransnet is a wonderful website filled with discussions about anything and everything, advice, competitions and blogs too.

You can even see if your town has its own local website where you can sign up and become a member and receive their free newsletter.

Gransnet Logo

Our guest post can be found on the Local Forums section and we look forward to sharing many more posts with the fabulous “Gransnetters”.

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All across the country, most children are currently off school for the Easter Holidays. If you are looking after your grandchildren over the next week or two, you may be wondering what activities you can do to keep them occupied and avoid restlessness or cries of boredom.

There are plenty of things to do at home or when you are out and about and here are our top 5 (free or affordable) ideas for you and your grandchildren…

1. Make an Easter Bonnet – Whether you have an old hat lying around or lots of scrap paper and cardboard, an Easter bonnet is very easy and time consuming. You could go to your local craft supplier and pick up buttons, pompoms and ribbons or if you have any colourful pens around the house, you can make the bonnets without spending a penny.

Handmade Easter Bonnet

2. Create a scrapbook– Scrapbooks are great way for children to treasure their memories and they’re very simple to do too. You can buy a decent scrapbook from most shops now, you could even buy a basic sketchpad for your grandchildren and they can personalise it. Absolutely anything can go into a scrapbook such as photographs, interesting leaves, shells, drawings and lots more. Get your grandchildren to put a date on every new page so then they can look back on it when they are a little bit older. Your grandchildren could even create their very own story book with their scrapbooks too!

an example of a handmade scrapbook

3. Nature walks – The weather has not been fantastic for the last couple of weeks but young children love nothing more than splashing about in muddy puddles whilst on the hunt for mini-beasts! If your local area has a large park or woodland area, these are perfect places for an afternoon walk or play and your grandchildren’s imagination can really run wild.

Grandparents on a walk with grandchildren

4. Visit a National Trust property – Over the holidays, the National Trust has lots of properties that are open to the public and they hold events for children too. Depending on the property, some events are free and some are chargeable. Over the Easter weekend, some properties also have a chocolate egg hunt and you can check which properties in your area are holding the hunt on the National Trust website.

National Trust Gardens

5. Film marathons – If the weather where you are really is not showing any signs of spring over the holidays and Easter weekend, then there is nothing better than setting up a mini cinema in your living room. You can make healthy snacks and drinks, set up the seats just like at the pictures. You can then get your grandchildren to select some of their favourite films and vote for the ones that they really want to watch.

Bucket of popcorn

What activities have you, or will you, be getting up to over the Easter holidays?

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Saturday night television has always been a little bit hit-and-miss. Back in the 70s, 80s and early 90s, many families looked forward to gathering in the living room ready for the Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and The Price Is Right. In recent years, Saturday night television has had a bit of a revival with the likes of the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent hitting our screens.

Paddy and Nico dancers from Britain's Got Talent 2014

If you managed to catch Britain’s Got Talent this weekend, you would have seen sensational salsa dancing duo 79-year-old Paddy and Nico.

Their dance started off very gentle and Simon Cowell hit his buzzer within seconds of the pair gracing the stage. Simon must have felt silly for doing so because as soon as he hit his buzzer, Paddy and Nico changed the tempo and style of their dance to a very energetic salsa.

Paddy, who has been living in Spain since 2001, wanted to occupy herself since the death of her husband, David, just 18 months after they moved and that is when she came across Nico’s dance academy and the pair have been great friends and dancing partners ever since.

The judges were that impressed with what they had seen; Amanda Holden hit the brand new ‘Golden Buzzer’ which automatically put Paddy and Nico through to the live quarter finals. Simon apologised for judging the pair too soon and said how impressed he was with their routine. You can catch up with the show on the ITV Player.

Amazing Greys presenters Angela Rippon and Paddy McGuinness

Straight after Britain’s Got Talent, a brand new quiz show came on to our screens. Amazing Greys saw a young contestant take on some of the country’s most-talented pensioners including DJ ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton (75), former tennis star Christine Truman (73) and author and Master Mind winner Elizabeth Horrocks (66).

The younger challengers must beat “the greys” in two out of three games and they can then be in with a chance of winning £10,000. In the first round, 72-year-old Henry Clarke also known as the ‘Biceps from Bucks’ beat 26-year-old Sal in a challenge to squat-lift half their body weight. By the time Sal had completed 16 squats, Henry had already completed 20!

Amazing Greys is presented by Paddy McGuinness and veteran broadcaster Angela Rippon. 69-year-old Angela has said recently that the show really does prove that over 60s can achieve anything. You can also catch up on Amazing Greys on the ITV Player.

Oldest Female Runner for the 2014 London Marathon Iva BarrThe London Marathon has also taken place this weekend and two runners have certainly caught our eye here at Bath-Knight. 89-year-old Paul Freedman and 86-year-old Iva Barr have definitely changed opinions on ageing as they have both successfully completed the Marathon this weekend. They were both the oldest runners there this weekend so a huge well done to them!

Oldest Male running the London Marathon 2014 Paul Freedman

Did you catch Britain’s Got Talent, Amazing Greys or any of the London Marathon coverage?

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