Simnel cake

Simnel cake

B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself

My mother-in-law makes Simnel cake at Easter, or on Mother’s Day as a mid-fasting treat. She usually gives up chocolate for Lent, so this is a great cake to get into her good books as it’s really sweet but without any chocolate. Simnel cakes have a long cooking time, but are well worth the wait.


Quantity Ingredient

For the marzipan

Quantity Ingredient
250g ground almonds
250g icing sugar
2 large egg whites
or 4 tablespoons two chicks liquid egg white
1 teaspoon almond extract

For the cake

Quantity Ingredient
175g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the tin
175g light soft brown sugar
3 large eggs
225g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground allspice
150g raisins
150g sultanas
75g candied mixed peel
1 unwaxed lemon, zest finely grated
1 orange, zest finely grated
50g apricot jam

Tool kit

Quantity Ingredient
food processor, (for the marzipan)
20 cm loose-bottomed deep-sided round sandwich tin
electric whisk
offset palette knife, (optional)
wire cooling rack
pastry brush


  1. Start by making the marzipan in a food processor, but without the food colour. Wrap in cling film to prevent it drying out and put it in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
  2. Butter a 20 cm loose-bottomed round sandwich tin. Line with baking parchment.
  3. Beat together the sugar and butter with an electric whisk until smooth, light-coloured and creamy. Beat in the eggs one by one, beating thoroughly between each addition. If the mixture starts to split, put 1 tablespoon of the flour in to bring it back and continue to beat.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and allspice and gently fold them in. Then fold in the raisins, sultanas, mixed peel and zests; be gentle, as you don’t want to knock too much air out of the mixture.
  5. Tip half the batter into the tin and smooth with a spatula or offset palette knife. Roll out 150 g of the chilled marzipan into a circle just smaller than the tin and lay it on. Spread the remaining batter on top. It will come quite far up, but don’t worry – it will cook just fine.
  6. Cook in the oven for 2½ hours (yes, that long, as the marzipan slows the cooking of the batter beneath it). Check in the last 30 minutes and if it has browned too much, pop some foil over the top. Leave to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Turn out and leave until cold.
  7. Heat up the jam in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water until boiling. Paint the jam on the top of the cake with a pastry brush. Roll out 250 g of the marzipan into a 20 cm circle and lay on the cake (using the jam as glue). Score a criss-cross pattern on it and crimp the edges.
  8. Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 even-sized balls and place them evenly around the edge, sticking down with a dab more jam. Put the cake under a medium grill and lightly brown the top of the marzipan: make sure you take it out before it gets too brown.


  • This recipe has a level 2 (intermediate) difficulty.


  • You could whack in 150 g glacé cherries (quarter them, wash, dry and roll them in flour to stop them sinking). Or it could easily take 75 g of flaked almonds. I like to eat this with a handful of sugared almonds, but I’m sharing a little too much of my potentially life-threatening almond addiction (one day at a time...).

    To make a bigger cake, add an extra egg, add one-third on to all the other ingredients and bake it in a 23 cm tin for the same time, as the depth is the same.

    Now you can make marzipan, you’re freed from the rock-hard ball in the cupboard that results from buying it. To make smaller quantities, I recommend you buy liquid egg white. It’s also brilliant for macarons.
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