Recipe: Simnel Cake


It's pretty cool that this very traditional Easter cake dates back to Medieval times. All these years later, no one actually knows what 'simnel' means! In essence it's a rich fruit cake decorated beautifully. The 12 little balls represent Jesus and his apostles (minus Judas).


For The Cake

  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 350 g mixed dried fruit (currants, sultanas and whatever else you like!)
  • 50 g glace cherries, halved
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 75 ml limoncello
  • 110 g brown sugar
  • 110 g caster sugar
  • 220 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 220 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 50 g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
  • 750 g marzipan
  • 100 ml limoncello
  • 50 g caster sugar

To Decorate

  • 50 g apricot jam
  • 1 handful pistachio nuts, chopped
  • 1 handful sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 handful mixed dried fruit or peel
Preheat the Oven

Step 1

Preheat The Oven

Preheat the oven to 150ºC.

Prepare the Fruit and Tin

Step 2

Prepare The Fruit And Tin

Throw the saffron, dried fruit, glace cherries, lemon zest and mixed spice into a mixing bowl. Pour over the limoncello and soak while you make the cake mix. Grease a loose-bottomed cake tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.

Make the Cake Batter

Step 3

Make The Cake Batter

Beat the sugars and butter together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Combine the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add one egg at a time, stirring in a tablespoon of the flour with each egg. Fold in the dried fruit mixture and the pistachio nuts. Pour half of the mixture into the prepared tin. Take 200g of the marzipan and roll it out into a circle as big as the tin. Carefully lift it and place it on top of the cake mix, then top with the remaining cake mix.

Bake the Cake

Step 4

Bake The Cake

Cut out a circle of greaseproof paper the size of the cake tin, then cut out a hole in the middle of it. Place the paper on top of the cake mix and bake it in the oven for 2 hours, until a skewer poked into the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool to room temperature.

Pour over Syrup

Step 5

Pour Over Syrup

Pour the 100ml of limoncello and the caster sugar into a small saucepan. Heat and bubble until it reduces to a syrupy consistency. Drizzle the syrup over the cake and let it soak in.

Decorate and Serve

Step 6

Decorate And Serve

Let down the apricot jam with a tablespoon of water, then brush it all over the cake. Roll a second circle of marzipan to the size of the cake and place it on top. Use the remaining marzipan to roll out 11 balls. Place them around the top of the cake, blowtorch (or carefully grill) the marzipan until just turning golden brown, then scatter over the chopped nuts and mixed fruit. Serve up to lucky guests! Serves 8

Hungry for more? Try one of these!