Our Simnel cake recipe makes a traditional rich fruit cake for Easter topped with a layer of marzipan and 11 marzipan balls.
Simnel cakes have been eaten since medieval times, and although they are now thought of as a traditional Easter cake idea, the cake was originally a Mothering Sunday tradition. It is thought that the name of the cake comes from Latin, where the word 'simila' means fine, wheaten flour.
Much like a Christmas cake, a Simnel cake features many of the elements of a traditional fruit cake – namely a mixture of dried fruits such as sultanas, currants, raisins and candied mixed peel as well as the inclusion of brandy to 'feed' the cake. The main difference between a simnel cake recipe and Christmas cake is the use of marzipan. Unlike a Christmas cake where marzipan can be used under royal icing, on a Simnel cake the use of a marzipan layer on the top of the cake is the main decoration, along with eleven marzipan balls spread equally on the top, each symbolising Jesus's disciples (minus Judas).
You can make a Simnel cake up to a week ahead of when you want to eat it, but just ensure to add the marzipan layer no earlier than the day before you swerve it for freshness and flavour.
- 500g marzipan
- 175g butter
- 175g light muscovado sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 250g plain flour, sifted
- ½tsp baking powder
- 50g ground almonds
- 300g mix of raisins, sultanas and currants
- 50g candied peel, chopped
- zest 1 lemon
- 2tsp mixed spice
- 2tbsp milk
- 2tbsp brandy
- 1tbsp apricot jam
You will also need an 18cm loose-bottomed cake tin, greased and double-lined with baking parchment for this Simnel cake recipe.
How to make Simnel cake:
- Preheat the oven to 170 C, 150 C fan, gas 3. Roll out a third of the marzipan into a round the size of the cake tin and set aside.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually add 3 eggs while beating.
- Sift in the flour and baking powder, fold in the almonds, then add the rest of the ingredients, apart from the apricot jam and the last egg.
- Spoon half the mixture into the cake tin, place the rolled out piece of marzipan on top, pressing lightly, then cover with the rest of the cake mix. Make a slight dip in the top of the mixture to stop it rising when cooking. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes, until nicely browned, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool.
- Roll out half the remaining marzipan to the size of the cake. Spread a thin layer of apricot jam on the top of the cake and lightly press the layer of marzipan on, crimping the edges. Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 balls. Beat the last egg and use to brush the cake top, then stick on the marzipan balls. Put the cake under a medium grill for a minute or so to glaze. The cake will keep for up to 7 days in an airtight container. You could also wrap it and store in the freezer for up to 6 weeks.
Samuel has a BSc in Food from the University of Birmingham and nearly 16 years after he began his professional food career, his work has featured in national and international publications including Waitrose Food, Australian Delicious, and the LAD Bible Group.
He was also a nutritional consultant for BBC’s Eat Well for Less. Throughout his career he has specialised in recipe writing and has produced many recipes for woman&home. Samuel is also Co-Vice Chair of the Guild of Food Writers and a Trustee of 91 Ways CIC.
Easter biscuits recipe
Use our simple Easter biscuits recipe to make fun, spring time sweet treats to share with friends and family
By Rosie Conroy • Published
Easter carrot cake recipe
Our Easter carrot cake recipe makes a four-layered cake packed with fruit, nuts, and coconut. We think this might just be the best carrot cake ever!
By Jane Curran • Published
By Keiron George • Published
Chocolate and hazelnut roulade
This chocolate and hazelnut roulade comes with an optional Baileys Irish cream liqueur filling for an extra, festive twist
By Jen Bedloe • Published
This no-bake Baileys cheesecake is so easy to make and perfect for cream liqueur lovers, plus it takes just 40 minutes to prepare
By Jess Meyer • Published
Chocolate torte with Baileys cream and salted praline
Serve this rich Chocolate torte with Baileys cream and salted praline for a festive dessert that makes a popular alternative to Christmas pudding
By Jen Bedloe • Published
Kate Middleton and Prince William's awkward upset over 'no Easter presents' from Harry and Meghan
Prince Harry claims that Kate Middleton and Prince William were upset over an awkward Easter present moment
By Caitlin Elliott • Published
Thousands of Kinder Eggs recalled over Salmonella contamination scare ahead of Easter
A number of Kinder Eggs have been recalled and urgently pulled from shelves for fears of contamination with Salmonella bacteria
By Laura Harman • Published
Princess Charlotte resembles Queen at Easter Sunday service
Princess Charlotte resembles the Queen at the Windsor Easter Sunday service as she attends with other members of the Royal Family
By Laura Harman • Last updated