If you thought fruit cake was just for Christmas, you’d be mistaken – Simnel cake is a traditional fruity Easter bake with a marzipan twist!
Don’t miss our best content straight to your inbox! Sign up now and get our FREE newsletters packed with fun ideas and things to do with the kids, family-friendly recipes, expert advice, parenting tips and great competitions.
A classic Simnel cake is packed with almond flavour, thanks to a layer of marzipan through the middle, and then another to ice the top of the cake.
If you’ve ever wondered why there are marzipan balls on top of a Simnel cake, it was traditionally done to symbolise Jesus’ apostles – although 11, not 12, as Judas was excluded.
You May Also Enjoy Celebrate Spring with 20 Fun and Easy Easter Desserts
Simnel Cake Recipe
- 280g mixed dried fruit
- 2 oranges, zest and juice
- 2 tbsp water
- 450g marzipan
- 250g butter, softened
- 180g light brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 200g self-raising flour, sifted
- 100g ground almonds
- 1 lemon, zest
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 tbsp apricot or orange jam
- 1 egg, beaten (optional)
- In a saucepan, combine the dried fruit and orange zest, add in the orange juice and 2 tbsp water. Bring to a simmer, stirring regularly, then remove from the heat and set aside for 2-3 hours (or overnight) until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Preheat the oven to 130C fan. Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin.
- Divide the marzipan into thirds. Take one third, and use the cake tin to cut out a 20cm circle. Wrap the remaining two-thirds in clingfilm for later.
- Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the remaining ingredients (except the apricot jam) and mix until combined. Stir in the soaked fruit.
- Spoon half of the cake mixture into the tin, then layer with one of the marzipan discs. Spoon on the remaining cake mixture, levelling the top as much as possible with the back of a spoon.
- Bake for 1 hour 50 minutes to 2 hours, before checking with a skewer to ensure the centre of the cake is cooked through. If the skewer is clean when removed, the cake is done. If the skewer has any wet mixture, return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes and repeat.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Divide the remaining marzipan in half. Take one half and roll out to create another 20cm disc similar to the first. Use the other half to roll 11 balls, supposed to represent Jesus’ apostles (excluding Judas).
- Once cooled, brush the top of the cake with the apricot jam. Carefully place the marzipan disc on top of the cake. You may see Simnel cakes with intricate designs or crimping on top, but this is entirely up to you!
- Arrange the marzipan balls at equal distances around the outer edge of the top of the cake, and brush the whole top with beaten egg. Put the Simnel Cake under a hot grill for 1-2 minutes until just starting to caramelise – do not leave the cake unattended as it will burn easily. Leave to cool before slicing.
- Alternatively, decorate the top of the Simnel Cake with fresh flowers or mini eggs.
Note: If you want to reduce the steps or if you have some non-marzipan fans, you may want to skip the middle layer of marzipan, and just top the cake instead. In that case, reduce the overall amount of marzipan by one-third.
You May Also Enjoy These Easy Bunny Cupcakes Are (Almost!) Too Cute to Eat…
Have you ever made a Simnel cake for Easter? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!