Simnel cake

Simnel cake is a light fruit cake covered in marzipan, and eaten at Easter in Great Britain and Ireland. Marzipan balls on top represent the Apostles; 11 in total as, for understandable reasons, Judas is persona non grata. In some variations Christ is also represented, by a ball placed at the centre. Simnel cakes have been known since mediaeval times.

Serves12 Origin Europe
Preparation 30 min Heat rating (No heat)
Cooking 2h Ease (Average)
Vegetarian Yes


tsp, ground Allspice
tsp Ground Cinnamon
tsp Ground Ginger
1 x 500 g pack golden marzipan
25g ground almonds
225g plain flour
3 level teaspoons baking powder
150g light soft brown sugar
175g butter, well softened
2 tablespoons milk
3 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
500g mixed chopped dried fruit (raisins, apricots, cherries, cranberries, figs etc)
50g of candied lemon, orange
grated zest 1 orange
grated zest 1 lemon
icing sugar for dusting
1 tablespoon apricot jam, melted


Take everything you need out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Butter and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm spring form cake tin with a double layer of brown baking paper. Mix together the candied fruit with the chopped dried fruit.
Cream the butter and sugar until very soft and light, and add the orange and lemon zest. Measure the flour, baking powder, spices and ground almonds into a bowl and stir to combine.
Add 1 of the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar with 2 tablespoons of the dry flour-and-spice ingredients, then beat in the remaining eggs in the same way. Beat in the rest of the dry ingredients, and then the milk. Finally fold in the fruit.
Pour the fruit-cake mixture into the cake tin, smoothing it down with a rubber spatula, and bake for half an hour at 170°C and then turn the oven down to 150°C for another 1½ hours or until the cake has risen and is firm on top. Let it cool completely on a rack.
Remove the cooled cake from the tin and unwrap the lining from the cake. Dust a surface with a little icing sugar and then roll out about 400g of the marzipan. Cut it into a 23cm circle to cover the top of the cake. Paint the top of the cake with the melted apricot jam.
Make 11 Apostle balls out of the remaining marzipan, roughly 2.5cm in size. Glue the marzipan balls with a little more apricot jam.

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