Simnel cake has a long history, having been served in the UK and Ireland since medieval times. It then became a popular treat baked by girls in service to give to their mothers when returning home on Mothering Sunday (also known as Simnel Sunday).

Today simnel cake is best known for its association with Easter. Simnel cake is a light fruitcake topped with a layer of marzipan and 11 marzipan balls to represent the eleven apostles of Christ, minus Judas (though some recipes use 12 balls). Even if you’re not religious, a simnel cake is the ultimate edible centrepiece for Easter Sunday.

Easter simnel cake
Traditional Easter simnel cake (iStock/PA)
Easter simnel cake
Print Recipe
Nutrition Facts
Simnel cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 904 Calories from Fat 378
% Daily Value*
Fat 42g65%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 158mg53%
Sodium 156mg7%
Potassium 495mg14%
Carbohydrates 125g42%
Fiber 9g38%
Sugar 101g112%
Protein 19g38%
Vitamin A 571IU11%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 204mg20%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Simnel cake

A marzipan-topped fruit cake – traditional for Easter
Cook Time3 hours
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: British
Servings: 8
Calories: 904kcal
Author: Regula Ysewijn


  • A round 18–20cm springform tin
  • Mixing bowl


For the home-made marzipan:

  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 360 g almond flour
  • 40 g apricot kernels (if you can’t find apricot kernels, use an extra 20g almond flour and add a few drops of natural almond flavour or maraschino liqueur)
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • 2 eggs beaten

For the cake:

  • 115 g butter at room temperature
  • 115 g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 110 g plain flour
  • 55 g almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 340 g currants
  • 55 g candied citrus peel chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp apricot jam to garnish
  • Butter for greasing
  • Flour for dusting

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp milk


  • It is best to make the marzipan a day in advance. Sift the icing sugar, caster sugar and almond meal into a large bowl and mix well. Soak the apricot kernels in boiling water for five minutes, then remove the skins. Using a mortar and pestle, finely crush the apricot kernels and add the rosewater or maraschino liqueur.
  • Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the eggs and the apricot kernel mixture. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to mix everything well, then use your hands to knead the marzipan. If necessary, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it comes together but doesn’t become sticky. Wrap the marzipan in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature.
  • Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F). Grease a round 18–20cm springform tin and cover the base and side with a double layer of baking paper. Fold a piece of brown paper in half, then wrap it around the outside of the tin and secure with kitchen string.
  • Divide the marzipan in half and roll each piece out to about 5mm thick. Use the cake tin to cut out two 20cm circles. Roll 11 marzipan balls from the leftover marzipan.
  • Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and make sure that each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next one. Add a teaspoon of the flour with the last egg to prevent the mixture from separating. Fold in the remaining flour, the almond flour and baking powder, followed by the currants and the candied citrus peel.
  • Spoon half of the batter into the tin, then place one of the marzipan circles neatly on top of the batter. Spoon the other half of the batter on top.
  • Reduce the oven to 130°C (250°F) and bake the cake in the lower part of the oven for two and a half to three hours.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and switch the oven function to grill. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove it from the tin. Brush the top of the cake with a thin layer of apricot jam and place the remaining marzipan circle on top. Arrange the marzipan balls on the marzipan circle, using a little apricot jam to secure them.
  • Lightly brush the marzipan balls with the egg wash. Briefly put the cake back in the oven to give the balls a light golden colour.


Calories: 904kcal | Carbohydrates: 125g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 158mg | Sodium: 156mg | Potassium: 495mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 101g | Vitamin A: 571IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 204mg | Iron: 5mg

Oats In The North, Wheat From The South: The History Of British Baking, Savoury And Sweet by Regula Ysewijn is published by Murdoch Books.

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