Simnel Cake

March 12, 2021
7 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Makes 1 cake
Author Notes

If you believe, as I do, that any ceremony worth its salt merits celebration with a fruitcake, then you’re probably already looking forward to Easter to eat a Simnel cake—the fruit-packed, cherry-flecked, marzipan-stuffed confection that’s a rite of spring. —Katherine Knowles

What You'll Need
  • For the cake
  • 6 ounces butter, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces golden caster sugar (or 3oz white sugar and 3oz light brown sugar)
  • 3 pieces large eggs, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice (alternatively, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon)
  • 12 ounces dried fruit (such as sultanas, golden raisins, and currants)
  • 2 ounces glace cherries
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons orange zest
  • 18 ounces marzipan, divided into 3, for the topping
  • 3 ounces apricot preserves, to brush the top and sides of cake, and assemble the decorations
  • For the almond paste (if not using prepared marzipan)
  • 9 ounces white sugar
  • 9 ounces ground almonds
  • 2 pieces large eggs, at room temperature
  1. For the cake
  2. Preheat the oven to 300F. Grease and line the sides and bottom of an 8-inch cake tin. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and the flour alternately, scraping down the mixer to combine.
  5. Stir in the mixed spice (or cinnamon), dried fruit, glace cherries, and orange zest.
  6. Take 1 third of the marzipan or almond paste (instructions below). Roll and squish into an 8-inch disk (the same size as the cake tin).
  7. Spoon half the cake mixture into the tin. Top with the marzipan disk. Spoon over the rest of the mixture and smooth.
  8. Cut a hole in the center (the size of a quarter) of the double layer of parchment paper, let out steam. Cover the top with a double layer of baking parchment (tied around the top of the tin, rather than resting on the top of the cake).
  9. Bake the cake for 2 hours 40 mins (note that if you use a cake tester it might look wet – that’s likely the marzipan you’re seeing. If the top is nicely browned and feels springy to the touch, you’re good to go).
  10. This cake can be eaten sliced as is, or sliced, toasted and buttered. It keeps very well in an airtight tin.
  11. Roll one third of the marzipan (or almond paste - recipe below) into a disk. Brush the top of the cooled cake with apricot preserve, and top the cake with the disk.
  12. Use the final third of the marzipan (you may not need all of it) to make 11 little balls and stick around the edge of the cake with more apricot preserve. (If your apricot preserve is very thick it won’t be especially sticky, but a few seconds in the microwave will loosen it up nicely.)
  13. Put the cake under the broiler (or use a blow torch) to brown the marzipan balls to a golden bronze.
  1. For the almond paste (if not using prepared marzipan)
  2. Combine all ingredients in a mixer. Once you’ve got a rough dough, knead it by hand for a minute to smooth it into a silky paste. Divide this in to three, wrap in plastic wrap and set aside.

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