Simnel Cake

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Prep time
30 mins
Cooking time
2 h 30 mins

Known to have been baked since the medieval ages, this light fruitcake is topped with marzipan. The toasted 'eggs' around the edge act as symbol of Jesus's disciples, without Judas, and is often enjoyed on Easter Sunday. Delicate and moreish.


  • 750g ready-made golden marzipan
  • 4 tablespoons apricot jam
  • 1 beaten egg to glaze
  • 280g butter, softened
  • 280g light muscovado sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 750g mixed dried fruit
  • 115g glace cherries, whole
  • 85g ground almonds
  • Zest of 1 lemon and 1 large orange
  • Juice of 1 large orange
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 280g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • Baking paper to line the tin


  1. Pre-heat the oven 170°C/150°C fan/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Line the base and sides of the cake tin with baking paper and set to one side.
  3. Cut a 150g piece from the marzipan, divide into 11 pieces and roll into balls. Divide the remaining marzipan into 2 equal pieces and roll out into 22cm rounds. Set to one side whilst you make the cake.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl; beat in the eggs one at a time. To prevent curdling add 1-2 tablespoons of the flour after the addition of the first 2 eggs.
  5. Stir in the mixed fruit, cherries, ground almonds, vanilla extract and almond extract, orange juice, orange and lemon zest.
  6. Pour half the cake mixture into the lined tin, smooth over the top and cover with one of the marzipan rounds. Add the remaining cake mixture and smooth over the top once more. Make a small well in the centre with the back of a spoon, this will ensure a flat top to the cake.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 140°C/120°C fan/Gas Mark 1 and continue cooking for 2½ - 3 hours covering the cake lightly with a piece of foil for the last hour of cooking to prevent over-browning.
  8. Turn the cake tin two or three times during cooking to ensure even baking.
  9. To see if the cake is done insert a skewer into the centre, it should come away cleanly.
  10. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. When cooled release the springform clip and remove the cake from the tin but leaving it sitting on the base with the collar section removed. Then remove the baking paper from the sides.
  11. To finish, brush the top of the cooked cake with the apricot jam and cover with the second round of marzipan. Arrange the eleven marzipan balls around the outer edge of the cake and brush the entire top with the beaten egg.
  12. Place the cake under a medium heat grill, at least 10cm away from the heat source, and toast the top until lightly browned. Alternatively you can brown the top using a chef's blow torch.
  13. To serve, slide the cake from the base on to a plate, removing the baking paper.
  14. To keep, replace the springform collar around the finished cake and cover, alternatively wrap in foil and store in an airtight container.
  15. The cake will keep for up to a month.

Cook's notes

Do not leave the cake in the tin when toasting the marzipan under the grill as this may damage the silicone-covered clip or the non-stick coating. For an extra special gift present the cake inside the cake tin.

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