Lockdown Easy Cooking : Simnel Cake. #easycooking #baking #glutenfree

Easter simnel cake served on a cake stand Simnel cake is probably seen as a little retro these days.  Certainly it is not something you see as often as you once did and  I have certainly not made it in a very long while.  I can’t even find the recipe my mother always used – and if I am honest the only reason she made it was because my father was particularly fond of both fruit cake and marzipan rather than anything symbolic. Nevertheless it is a good cake and, like my father,  I always loved the gooey marzipan layer that is reminiscent of Stollen. Its Easter and these are unusual times – so why not push the boat out.

This version (which needs a deep 20cm cake tin) comes from BBC food pages.


  • 250g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins and candied mixed peel)
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 500g marzipan
  • 250g  butter
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, plus 1 beaten for glazing
  • 175g plain flour – or gf flour and 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g glacé cherries, halved
  • 3 tbsp apricot jam


  • Put mixed dried fruit in a pan with with the orange juice and zest and 2 tbsp water and heat gently in a pan, stirring now and then until the liquid has been absorbed and leave to cool.  (Note – you can skip this part if you are pushed for time – or if like me have an allergy to oranges but it does make the cake moister )
  • Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2.
  • Roll out a third of the marzipan and use the base of a cake tin as a template to cut out a circle. Wrap the remaining two-thirds of marzipan in greaseproof and set aside for later.
  • Line the cake tin with a double layer of parchment.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy.
  • Add the eggs, flour, almonds, baking powder, lemon zest, mixed spice and vanilla and mix until well combined.
  • Add cherries and the cooled soaked dried fruit.
  • Mixture should be soft dropping consistency. If it is dry then add a little more milk (esp if using GF flour)
  • Put half of the cake mixture into the tin.
  • Top with the disc of marzipan
  • Add remaining cake mixture, and level the surface with a spatula.
  • Bake for 2 hrs or until a skewer inserted in the centre cake comes out clean.
  • Cool in the tin for 15 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack to get cold.
  • Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam.
  • Roll out the remaining marzipan and use the base of the cake as a template to cut out another disc.
  • Place it on top of the cake. (crimped edges are optional 🙂 )
  • Roll the remaining marzipan into equal-sized balls (tradition says this should be 11 to represent the apostles but there is no rule!)
  • Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the apostles around the outer edge of the top disc, and brush them with a little egg.
  • Put under a hot grill for a minute or two until just starting to caramelise  – Warning – the marzipan will burn easily so take care!
  • Leave to cool
  • You can make this cake in advance as it will easily keep in a sealed tin for a week

stock photo

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