In a Vase on Monday: Having My Cake and Eating It…

IMG_4558I was really looking forward to using some of the species tulips that are now ripe for picking and seeking out additional material to demonstrate how clearly spring has sprung here…but no, another whim popped up and got in the way so we have an Easter themed vase instead… Perhaps it was noting that Chloris had posted a seasonal vase on Easter Sunday, or maybe the very delayed baking of my usual Simnel cake, or just the fact that the primroses are absolutely gorgeous… whatever it was, the tulips will have to wait.

I usually make a Simnel cake every Easter, not purely because it is a traditional cake for this time of year but also because I am very partial to both fruit cake and marzipan! For those who haven’t come across it,  it is essentially a fruit cake with a layer of marzipan through the middle, another layer on top and 11 marzipan balls added to represent Jesus’ disciples, Judas Iscariot not being deserving of marzipan representation. Simnel cakes have been known since mediaeval times, although the meaning of ‘simnel’ is unclear but could derive from the Latin word simila which means ‘fine flour’. Originally made in the middle of Lent for Laetere or Refreshment Sunday (later hijacked as Mothers Day) it is believed to have become a tradition for girls in service to take a cake home to their mothers on this day off. The addition of marzipan balls was a Victorian amendment to the decoration which had previously involved preserved fruit and flowers – so I seem to have unintentionally combined both traditions…

Once the cake was cooked and the additional marzipan layer and disciples added it went back in the Aga for about 10 minutes to lightly brown the surface, before the centre was attacked with an apple corer and cake and marzipan removed to allow insertion of a small ‘crocus vase’, serendipitously  removing the small portion which wasn’t fully IMG_4561cooked. The primroses, picked to ensure they had as long a stem as possible, were trimmed to allow them to fall over the edge of the vase onto the cake, and having been picked generously easily filled the little vase, allowing space just for a few stems recently trimmed from Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’. Not having any appropriate ribbon, pale yellow crêpe paper from a pack of Easter shades was wrapped around the cake, perfectly mirroring the primroses, and the cake was then displayed on a china stand amongst the Tête-a-Tête narcissi on the grass near the stream, an ideal setting for this seasonal vase. I am confident that both primroses and cornus will last the week. Alas, not so the cake….

What will you have in your vase today – spring flowers, budding twigs or cleverly recycled material from previous vases or indoor plants? Many US bloggers are still waiting for their gardens to reappear from under weeks of snow and may envy those of us who now have  plenty of choice, but we have learned to be inventive with this meme and the challenge continues to motivate lots of us week in and week out. Just find what material you can from your own resources or foraged nearby, and enjoy popping them in a vase or other container today or any other Monday – and do share the result with us by leaving links to and from the weekly post on this blog.


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68 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Having My Cake and Eating It…

  1. I managed to resist making simnel cake, despite being a fellow lover if marzipan and fruit cake, but this makes me wish I hadn’t! Fun idea, the primroses look perfect.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Janet – it’s only a small one, made in a 6″ cake tin, so it doesn’t take too many days for the Golfer and I to demolish it 🙂

  2. Brian Skeys says:

    A lovely Easter vase/cake, ideal for this time of year.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Brian – the whims usually work out for the best, but I still shouldn’t have left it till Easter day to make the cake!

  3. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Blue Gold | Words and Herbs

  4. Cathy says:

    Oh, how pretty! It looks so lovely photographed outdoors among the daffodils, and primroses are the perfect symbol of Easter. An ingenious idea scooping out the middle to sink a miniature vase. Enjoy the rest of your cake Cathy!
    Here’s my Easter vase:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Cathy, and there is no doubt we will enjoy the rest of the cake even though the outside is a teeny bit overdone 😦

  5. Spectacular! I’ve never seen a cake like this.

  6. such lovely seasonal images! I have never made a simnel cake, maybe next year …Here is my link, Cathy :

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks – and I don’t use a special recipe, just my favourite fruit cake recipe with the added layer of marzipan

  7. Chloris says:

    What a fantastically creative arrangement, combining cake and primroses in a lovely edible Easter arrangement. And a history lesson too, I often wondered about the meaning and origin of Simnel cake.
    Thank you for the mention. I hope you and the Golfer are having a wonderful Easter.

    • Cathy says:

      Aw thanks Chloris, and I am really following in your footsteps with the history lesson, as it is something you are so good at. Interesting that it doesn’t seem to be known at all in the US… Hope you enjoyed your weekend – and I shall be having a proper look at your Easter vase later as I have had a break from blog commenting for a couple of days 😉

  8. Anna says:

    Mmmmmmmm! Now that looks simply too good and much, much pretty to eat Cathy. I usually buy a small Simnel cake from our local Country Market but wasn’t able to get there in the run up to Easter. I’m a marzipan addict too. My Easter vase has been picked now and is over here :

    • Cathy says:

      Oh thanks Anna, and I am afraid the vase was removed when it was time for a cup of tea and cake… 😉 Even though I didn’t have my own mixed vase today, there seem to be lot of other mixed bunches to enjoy on other blogs – hurrah!

  9. Monica says:

    Excellent “vase” idea!! Very cute and unexpected–not the kind you find out in the storage shed for sure hahahaha
    Hope your Easter was nice and your cake even better 😀

  10. Pingback: In a vase on Monday (almost) | Dancing Farmer Flowers

  11. Monica says:

    Oh yes, I was in a hurry and forgot my link to my vase LOL

  12. Anca Tîrcă says:

    Very creative and inspiring, a cake among daffodils, I would have never thought of this! I hope you all had a happy Easter, we celebrate ours next Sunday! This is my vase:

  13. Oh you have raised the bar Cathy…I am so bowled over by this vase and I loved learning about the cake. What a wonderful story and history. And yummy too. I am behind reading and commenting but will catch up.

    Spring is here although the weekend was once again in the 30s so we are still melting and only the few brave crocus bloomed. I have buds on several flowers so I predict a garden flower vase next week. This week I cut some willow and forsythia even when buried in snow to give them time to warm and bloom….and my goodness they did just in time. What a sight to see them.

    • Cathy says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Donna – and the last minute change of mind about the vase is one of the reasons why the meme is so much fun as there is always scope for spontaneity 🙂

  14. I’ve never heard of Simnel cake before. It looks lovely! Happy Easter!

  15. Perfect post: flowers, food and a bit of history all beautifully composed. The cake sounds wonderful as I also love fruitcake and marzipan. Things are starting to appear in my garden but it will be quite a while before there are drifts of anything. The tete a tetes are charming. My post is here:

  16. jenhumm116 says:

    What a wonderfully creative idea! Food AND flowers, what could be better?

    Here’s mine, although actually someone else’s ….

  17. Kris P says:

    You’ve definitely taken your arrangement outside the box this time, Cathy. I thought at first that the flowers had been snipped and laid on top of the cake – I should have realized from their perfect appearance, that you’d taken your preparations further! My vase is decidedly more mundane:

    Thanks for hosting and happy Easter!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kris, and I was so pleased that result was even better than I might have expected. I suppose you could do it with any cake but the marzipan and primroses looked perfect together

  18. AnnetteM says:

    What a novel idea for a vase on a Monday! We were just wondering what a Simnel cake was and you have described it perfectly. Thanks.

    • Cathy says:

      Simnel cake is not something we ever had at home but as an adult once I heard of it and saw the marzipan it was a definite must – has to be homemade marzipan though! 😉

  19. Helen Johnstone says:

    Heres my vase
    I was going to post my simnel cake. I had a notion to crystalise some primroses alla Mary Berry but it was raining when I made the cake and the flowers were soggy and now the majority has been eated!!
    Yours looks great

    • Cathy says:

      Oh, crystallised primroses sound wonderful – in fact I need to store that thought of crystallised flowers up for future vases… Have you tried it before? I haven’t …yet. Was eating the evidence the reason why you didn’t post it after all, Helen…?! 😉 The outside of the cake was a bit overdone as we were out for most of its cooking time and it could have done with being checked on a bit earlier 😦 Yours has obviously gone down well!

      • Helen Johnstone says:

        I remember crystallising primroses and violets when I was a kid. It’s quite easy to do. Mine cake was Ok but heavy

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  21. What a gorgeous post today, Cathy 😉 I love the idea of decorating a spring cake with living flowers. I decorated our Easter cake with chocolate bunnies- and ours was coconut. Now I must try making a Simnal cake, mostly because I love Marzipan and it sounds amazing combined with fruitcake! Your primroses are such a delicate color, too. Here is my Easter Monday vase: Happy Easter, Happy Spring! WG

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Elizabeth – and I love coconut too, so I bet your cake was yummy as well!

      • I hope it was- made the icing with white chocolate ganache and had coconut pudding between the layers. I gave the cake to my parents without tasting it- but they seem to have enjoyed it 😉 I asked for Marzipan flowers on my wedding cake all of those years ago. One of my absolute favorite sweets 😉

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  23. Julie says:

    What a fantastic prop for flowers this week Cathy – you could be sending us all in another direction with our Monday posts! I have never made a Simnel cake, but was rather taken with Mary Berry’s disciples and crystallised primroses last week and yours looks lovely, so I may give one a go next year. I made an easter meringue for the first time this year – I have only just realised how easy meringue is in an Aga!

    Thank you for hosting this lovely meme and you can find my contribution at:

    • Cathy says:

      Oh – did MB have a baking special last week? Must have missed it …. bother 😦 Yes, meringues in the Aga…. how I love my Aga!! I wonder how you decorated your Easter one?

  24. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Easter Monday Daffodils & Anemone | Mom in the Garden

  25. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Easter Monday Daffodils & Anemone | Mom in the Garden

  26. Well I love learning something new! I had not heard of a Simnel cake before, thank you Cathy! Fun idea to cut a hole out of the cake for the flowers. Everything is so pretty, and I’m sure the cake was delicious.
    My daffodils are still going strong (they were quite late to bloom) so that is what I’ve gone with again this week. Do you have tulips already? Mine are up, but I’m not sure when I’ll have blooms! Thanks for hosting. Here is my link:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Dana. It is the tulips in pots and those which were in pots last year but were then planted in the ground that are in bud, but the some of the species ones are in flower as they are generally earlier

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  28. rickii says:

    Clever Cathy: a name you earn over and over again. I used to have a Japanese teacup that exactly fit the center of a handmade bundt pan. It got used for many birthday cakes, but it took you to devise something similar from scratch, with charming results.
    Here’s my Easter basket “vase”:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks rickii – some of the best ideas seem to happen on a whim, although I suspect cutting the middle out of a cake is one of the traditional ways of rescuing a cake that isn’t cooked in the middle!

  29. pbmgarden says:

    Having never heard of Simnel cake I found this fascinating. Your cake makes a most inspiring vase this week! So lovely.
    My vase is

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Susie – it hadn’t occurred to me that the tradition might not have spread across the Atlantic, but some UK readers did not know what it was either, so I am glad I included the history bit!

  30. gardenfancyblog says:

    What an absolutely lovely cake for spring, and it sounds delicious as well. I had never thought of putting a vase in the center for flowers, but now I might have to try this myself…. Thanks for sharing your ideas and your photos. -Beth

    • Cathy says:

      Oh thanks Beth – perhaps I will have to do it again soon. Spring flowers would look lovely with a nice Victoria sandwich cake…

  31. Amy says:

    What a lovely creation – I look forward to the tulips, but this was worth the wait! And I love the idea of sinking the vase inside the cake 🙂
    My vase this week introduces a new flower and (just barely) a new section to the garden…

  32. Bec says:

    That cake looks delicious – v v clever idea with putting the vase in the middle. I love cakes like simnel. I’m still munching hot cross buns. Here’s my vase on a monday which has an Easter theme too.

  33. Christina says:

    I love your idea of putting flowering actually into the centre of the cake (I have to admit that when my extra large lemon sponge sank hugely in the middle it did cross my mind to try to hide it with flowers). Simnel cake is one of my favourites but I didn’t make one this year, yours looks delicious. Here is my link, a little late as yesterday I was busy entertaining all day.

  34. An edible vase this week – the best of both worlds – pure genius, Cathy! It’s so pretty! I’ve never eaten Simnel cake before. I should do, because I just love marzipan! I’ll have to make do with Battenburg till next year now!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Ali – and you could always make the cake now but leave the disciples off the top! But Battenberg…yum yum! I made mini versions just a few weeks ago…yummier yummier!

  35. A lovely post and a fab looking cake, I too love marzipan, but have avoided making a cake for the sake of my waist line! The Primroses on top are a lovely touch, isn’t spring great.

  36. How wonderful your Easter simnel cake looks adorned with primroses.

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