Simnel cake .Traditional English easter cake with marzipan.

Make yourself a delicious simnel cake for Easter this year (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Easter falls this weekend and there are always lots of treats to try – from chocolate eggs to hot cross buns.

But if you’re still enjoying baking during the pandemic, show off your skills with a simnel cake.

For those who aren’t familiar with a simnel cake, it’s a spicy fruit cake with an almond marzipan layer baked into the middle.

On top, there is traditionally 11 marzipan balls, which are said to represent the true disciples of Jesus.

This recipe, provided by Dove Farms, makes one cake and you’ll need about an hour and a half to do the whole thing.


Homemade marzipan

  • 200g icing sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Simnel cake

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 150g butter
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g currants
  • 100g mixed glacé peel
  • icing sugar
  • butter, for tin

Simnel cake topping

  • 400g marzipan
  • 2 tsp apricot jam, warmed

Equipment: 20cm/8″ round deep, loose bottom cake tin, rolling pin and mixing bowl


Homemade marzipan

  1. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl, add the almonds and stir to combine.
  2. Add the lemon juice and stir until it starts to clump together. Using your hands, gather everything together and knead it into a soft ball of marzipan paste.
  3. Dust the work surface with a little icing sugar, take one third of the paste and roll into a circle just larger than the cake tin. Place the tin on top of the paste circle and cut around the outside to make a perfect circle of marzipan. Gather up the excess marzipan and return it to the marzipan ball. Cover all the marzipan and set aside for later.

Making Simnel cake, adding the top layer of cake mixture

You need to bake the marzipan in the middle of the cake (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Simnel cake

  1. Pre-heat the oven at 170°C, Fan 150°C, 325°F, Gas 3.
  2. Rub butter around the inside of a 20cm/8″ round deep, loose bottom, cake tin or insert a baking liner.
  3. Measure the flour, nutmeg and cinnamon into a bowl and stir to combine.
  4. Put the butter and sugar into another bowl and beat together until light and fluffy.
  5. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  6. Add the prepared flour and stir until mixed.
  7. Stir in the currants and glacé peel.
  8. Tip half the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
  9. Take the prepared marzipan paste circle and place it on the cake mixture.
  10. Spoon the remaining cake mixture onto the paste and smooth the surface.
  11. Bake for 1½-1¾ hours. When a cocktail stick pressed into the centre of the cake comes out clean, it is cooked.
  12. Allow to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Simnel Cake Topping

  1. Take one third of the reserved marzipan, divide it into 11 pieces and roll each into a small ball.
  2. Roll the remaining marzipan into a circle just larger than the cake tin. Place the tin on top and cut around the outside to make a perfect circle of marzipan.
  3. Brush the top of the cold cake with half of the warm apricot jam.
  4. Place the marzipan circle on top.
  5. Brush the base of each marzipan ball with a dab of jam and place them in a circle on top of the cake.
  6. Place the cake under a hot grill for 1-2 minutes to lightly brown the marzipan. Or use a blow torch.
  7. Wrap and store the cake in a tin.

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