Simnel Cake

Easter came and we enjoyed the Spring holiday with kids. Boys had a great fun looking for eggs at Grandad’s garden. (Yes, Easter bunny came. )

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For Easter, I’ve been making this traditional Simnel cake for some years now.

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It’s a fruits cake like Chirstmas cake, but with marzipan in the middle  and on the top.

P1070175 (640x481)It’s very old fashion cake but we like it.

The top of Simnel cake is always decorated with 11 marzipan ball, representing the twelve apostles, minus Judas, apparently. I like the classic simple look and flavour of toasted marzipan, so I always decorate in this traditional manner.

(But this year, I burned the top… oh dear… I ate burned marzipan balls and put lightly toasted new ones on top. )

The recipe below is altered and adjusted to suit me from Mary Barry’s Simnel Cake from Red Magazine website. See original recipe on this link.
Or you can simply use your favourite fruit cake recipe and add a disc of marzipan in the middle before baking, and decorate top with more marzipan.

Simnel Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

(make 1 x 15cm tin. double the amount for 18cm tin)

light moscavado sugar….85g
eggs…….1 1/2
self-raising flour……85g

glacé cherries, quartered…..45g
lemon zest ……. 1/2 lemon
ground mixed spice ….. 1/2 tsp

The filling and decoration:
natural colour marzipan…..1 pack (500g)
apricot jam…2 tbsp

1. Roll out one-third of the marzipan. Using the base of the cake tin as a guide, cut out a circle slightly smaller than your cake tin.
2. Line the bottom and side with greaseproof paper, preheat oven 150C.
3. Cream butter and sugar, then add egg little by little.
4. Once combined, add flour, spice, and fruits.
5. Spoon half of the cake mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Top with the disc of marzipan from step 1.
4. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.
5. Bake in a preheated oven at 150°C for 1 hours- 80min or so. (or two and a quarter hours for 18cm cake)or until golden brown and firm to the touch. (You cannot use skewer test, as hot marzipan stick to the skewer, it is difficult to tell if it is cooked or not. )Cover the top of the cake with greaseproof paper if it is browning too quickly.
6.Once cooked, leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin, and leave to cool completely.
7. Warm the jam and use to brush the top of the cake.
8. To decorate the cake, roll out half of the remaining almond paste and use the tin to cut out an 15 centimetre round. Put on top of the jam. Make 11 even-sized balls with marzipan and place them on top. Use jam to stick them if you need.
9. Place under a hot grill for one to two minutes, until the balls are golden. (Don’t leave them alone under the grill! it burns quickly. You shouldn’t do this bit while you cook Easter breakfast in the same time. I learnt…)

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Traditional Easter tea treats
Simnel cake + Hot cross buns.

(April 2014)


12 thoughts on “Simnel Cake

  1. I had never heard of this cake before, but what a lovely tradition. I love the generous amount of marzipan with the fruit cake – a super combination.

    1. I am not sure how widely known this cake is. Maybe UK thing or English thing. My husband (Northern Ireland) didn’t know it either, until I noticed it at shops around Easter time and start making it a few years ago, as my husband likes fruits cake with marzipan anyway. 🙂 It’s a good old cake!

    1. As I wrote on the comment for Hilda, I am now sure how widely this cake is eaten even within UK & Ireland, as my husband’s family didn’t know about it till I made it. I see them at shop before Easter and I’ve seen the recipe in books and magazines. It might be that this cake had a ‘come-back’ with branding power of large supermarkets in recent year. Or it was there being eaten by many all along, and just simply my husband’s family didn’t know it. I wonder….

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