Simnel cake daffodils

Simnel Cake

If you’ve had your fill of chocolate this Easter (unlikely, I know!), then this traditional Easter fruit cake is for you. 

Simnel cake with daffodils

I tend to think of this cake as a lighter version of a Christmas cake with the added bonus of extra marzipan through the middle. Plus you get to use a blow torch (if you have one) which is always fun!!

This cake requires 475g of dried fruit. You can use whatever combination you fancy. I usually tweak mine each year depending on my mood! The recipe below shows what I used this year for the cake that is photographed. The 11 marzipan balls represent the disciples excluding Judas.

Simnel cake top


adapted from ‘Easter Simnel Cake’ by Mary Berry


For the cake:

  • 175g sultanas
  • 100g glacé cherries
  • 75g raisins
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 50g dried apricots
  • 25g dried cranberries
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 1 orange zest and 4 tbsp juice
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 225g light muscovado sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice

For the decoration:

  • 2 tbsp apricot jam
  • 500g marzipan
  • 1 beaten egg
  • icing sugar for dusting worktop


1. Cut the glacé cherries into quarters. Rinse in a sieve to remove the stickiness then pat dry using kitchen towel. Chop the apricots into small pieces.

2. Weigh out the rest of the dried fruit. Add the zest and orange juice. Mix well. Cover and leave for a couple of hours or overnight for the fruit to soak up the liquid.

3. Prepare a 20cm deep, round tin. Grease the tin and line it with a double layer of baking paper. Wrap the outside of the tin with a double layer of brown paper and tie in place with string. This helps to prevent the outside of the cake from browning too much.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 130°C fan/150°C.

5. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. This will take a few minutes if using an electric mixer, and quite a bit longer if beating by hand. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and beat after each addition.

6. Sieve in the flour and spices then fold gently to combine with a spatula or metal spoon.

7. Finally, add the dried fruit mixture and fold until combined.

8. Spoon half the cake mixture into the prepared tin. Dust your worktop lightly with icing sugar and roll out ⅓ of the marzipan into a 20cm circle (same size as the tin) and place on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top. Cover with a double layer of baking paper with a 50p-size hole in the centre to allow steam to escape.

9. Bake on the bottom shelf for 2 ½ hours. The cake should be firm to the touch and a skewer should come out clean.

10. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin before removing from the tin and peeling off the baking paper. Leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack.

11. When ready to decorate, spread a thin layer of apricot jam over the surface of your cake. This helps the marzipan to stick. Roll out ½ the remaining marzipan into another circle (this one slightly bigger than your cake) and lay on top of the cake. Use your fingers to crimp the edges.

12. Divide the remaining marzipan into 11 equal sized balls. Brush the top of the cake with the beaten egg. Place the 11 balls around the top edge of the cake. Brush the tops of the balls with beaten egg. Use a blow torch or place under a grill (watch it like a hawk if you do it this way!) to brown the top of the marzipan.

Happy Easter!

Lainey x

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