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Easter Simnel Cake


Simnel Cake is a light fruit cake eaten during the Easter period in the UK, Ireland and other countries.


Simnel cakes have been known since at least Medieval times.

They are often associated with Mothering Sunday and in the 20th Century it was frequently

said that young girls in service would make one to be taken home to their mothers on their day off.

However, this was by no means the norm and by the late 20th Century, the cake had simply become an Easter cake.


Conventionally eleven marzipan balls are used to decorate the cake, with a story that the balls represent the twelve apostles, minus Judas.

Alternatively, twelve balls are occasionally used to represent Jesus and the twelve apostles, minus Judas.







For the almond paste:


250g/9oz caster sugar

250g/9oz ground almonds

2 free range eggs, beaten

1 tsp almond essence


For the cake:


175g/6oz butter or margarine

175g/6oz soft brown sugar

3 free-range eggs, beaten

175g/6oz plain flour

Pinch of salt

tsp ground mixed spice - optional

350g/12oz mixed currants, raisins and sultanas

55g/2oz mixed peel - chopped

lemon - grated zest only

1-2 tbsp apricot jam

1 free range egg, beaten for glazing





For the almond paste:


~> Place the sugar and ground almonds in a bowl. Add enough beaten egg and mix to a fairly soft consistency.


~> Add the almond essence and knead for one minute until the paste is smooth and pliable.


~> Roll out a third of the almond paste to make a circle 18cm/7in in diameter and keep the remainder for the cake topping.


~> Preheat oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Grease and line a 18cm/7in cake tin.


For the cake:


~> Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and then sift in the flour, salt and mixed spice, if using, a little at a time.

Finally, add the mixed dried fruit, peel and grated lemon zest and stir into the mixture.


~> Put half the mixture into a greased and lined 18cm/7in cake tin. Smooth the top and cover with the circle of almond paste.

Add the rest of the cake mixture and smooth the top leaving a slight dip in the centre to allow for the cake to rise.

Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hours. Test by inserting a skewer in the middle - if it comes out clean, it is ready.

Once baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.


~> Brush the top of the cooled cake with the apricot jam. Divide the remainder of the almond paste in half.

Roll out a circle to cover the top of the cake with one half and form 11 small balls with the other half.


~> Place the circle of paste on the jam glaze and set the balls round the edge. Brush the cake topping with a little beaten egg.


~> Preheat the grill to high. Place the cake onto a baking tray and grill for 1-2 minutes, or until the top of the marzipan begins to brown.

Alternatively, lightly heat the cake topping using a cook's blow torch, until the marzipan is golden-brown.





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