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Home > Recipes >

Simnel Cake

Simnel cake is a traditional British fruitcake that is often associated with Easter celebrations. It is typically made with rich fruitcake layers interspersed with marzipan, and decorated with additional marzipan balls on top. The 11 marzipan balls symbolize the 12 apostles, excluding Judas, and are traditionally toasted to represent their loyalty to Jesus.

You will need:

250g unsalted butter, softened
250g light brown sugar
4 large eggs
300g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
250g mixed dried fruit (such as currants, raisins, sultanas)
100g glacé cherries, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons apricot jam, warmed
500g marzipan
Additional beaten egg for glazing

For decoration:

Extra marzipan for the 11 balls
1 tablespoon icing sugar for dusting (optional)


Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 150°C (300°F) and grease and line a 20cm (8-inch) round cake tin with baking parchment.

Cream Butter and Sugar: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and light brown sugar until pale and fluffy.

Add Eggs: Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a tablespoon of flour with each egg to prevent curdling.

Fold in Dry Ingredients: Sift the self-raising flour, mixed spice, and ground cinnamon into the bowl with the creamed mixture. Gently fold the flour and spices into the mixture until just combined.

Add Fruits and Zests: Stir in the mixed dried fruit, chopped glacé cherries, lemon zest, and orange zest until evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Fill Cake Tin: Spoon half of the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the surface with a spatula.

Prepare Marzipan Layer: Roll out about one-third of the marzipan to fit the size of the cake tin. Place it on top of the cake mixture in the tin.

Add Remaining Cake Mixture: Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top of the marzipan layer and level the surface with a spatula.

Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If the cake begins to brown too quickly, cover the top loosely with foil.

Cool: Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Glaze with Jam: Brush the top of the cooled cake with the warmed apricot jam.

Decorate with Marzipan Balls: Divide the remaining marzipan into 11 equal-sized balls. Roll them out to make them slightly oval-shaped. Arrange the balls around the edge of the cake. Optionally, brush them with beaten egg for a glossy finish.

Optional Dusting: Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar for a decorative touch, if desired.

Serve: Once decorated, your Simnel Cake is ready to be served. It's traditionally enjoyed around Easter time.

Image: James Petts from London, England, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Image of Simnel Cake

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