Dessert

Simnel Cake

Posted by
Halletts the Bakers
Posted on
11 Mar 2022
DifficultyAdvanced

The build-up to Easter is a time for delight as we look forward to nature bursting back into life after the long winter. Bakeries play a big part in the customs surrounding this time of year, from pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, traditionally eaten before the long fast of lent, hot cross buns on Good Friday, and Shrewsbury biscuits and Simnel cakes that are still served up in many homes as part of the Easter feast.

The simnel cake is a lightly fruited cake with a layer of melted marzipan running through the middle.

On top, there is another layer of lightly toasted marzipan with 11 marzipan balls that signify the apostles of Jesus minus Judas. It's tricky to get the sugary balls all evenly spaced, best done by eye. Why not make your own Simnel cake from the recipe below.

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Makes1 Serving
 250 g mixed dried fruita mixture of sultanas, currants, raisins and candied mixed peel
 1 orangezested and juiced
 500 g marzipan
 250 g buttersoftened
 200 g light brown soft sugar
 4 eggs, plus 1 beaten to glaze
 175 g plain flour
 100 g ground almonds
 1 tsp baking powder
 1 lemonzested
 2 tsp mixed spice
 1 tsp vanilla extract
 3 tbsp apricot jam
1

Place the mixed dried fruit in a bowl with the orange juice and zest and 2 tbsp water. Cover and microwave for 2 mins, then leave to cool completely. Alternatively, heat gently in a pan, stirring now and then until the liquid has been absorbed and leave to cool.

2

Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Roll out a third of the marzipan and use the base of a deep 20cm cake tin as a template to cut out a circle. Wrap any offcuts and the remaining two-thirds of marzipan and set aside for later. Butter and line the cake tin with a double layer of parchment. Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the eggs, flour, almonds, baking powder, lemon zest, mixed spice and vanilla (all in one go) and mix until well combined. Mix in the cooled soaked dried fruit.

3

Scrape half the cake mixture into the tin. Top with the disc of marzipan, then the remaining cake mixture, and level the top with a spatula. Bake for 2 hrs. Check it’s cooked by inserting a skewer to the centre of the cake, if any wet mixture clings to the skewer, return to the oven for another 10 mins, then check again. Cool in the tin for 15 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

4

Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam. Roll out half of the remaining marzipan and use the base of the cake as a template to cut out another disc. Place it on top of the cake and crimp the edges, if you like. Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 equal-sized balls for the apostles. Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the apostles in a circle on top around the outside, and brush them with a little egg too. Put under a hot grill for a minute or two until just starting to caramelise – be very careful as the marzipan will burn easily. Leave to cool.

5

This cake will cut better after resting for at least a day if you can wait that long, If you cut it into 11 portions, each serving will have its own marzipan ball on top.

Ingredients

 250 g mixed dried fruita mixture of sultanas, currants, raisins and candied mixed peel
 1 orangezested and juiced
 500 g marzipan
 250 g buttersoftened
 200 g light brown soft sugar
 4 eggs, plus 1 beaten to glaze
 175 g plain flour
 100 g ground almonds
 1 tsp baking powder
 1 lemonzested
 2 tsp mixed spice
 1 tsp vanilla extract
 3 tbsp apricot jam

Directions

1

Place the mixed dried fruit in a bowl with the orange juice and zest and 2 tbsp water. Cover and microwave for 2 mins, then leave to cool completely. Alternatively, heat gently in a pan, stirring now and then until the liquid has been absorbed and leave to cool.

2

Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Roll out a third of the marzipan and use the base of a deep 20cm cake tin as a template to cut out a circle. Wrap any offcuts and the remaining two-thirds of marzipan and set aside for later. Butter and line the cake tin with a double layer of parchment. Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the eggs, flour, almonds, baking powder, lemon zest, mixed spice and vanilla (all in one go) and mix until well combined. Mix in the cooled soaked dried fruit.

3

Scrape half the cake mixture into the tin. Top with the disc of marzipan, then the remaining cake mixture, and level the top with a spatula. Bake for 2 hrs. Check it’s cooked by inserting a skewer to the centre of the cake, if any wet mixture clings to the skewer, return to the oven for another 10 mins, then check again. Cool in the tin for 15 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

4

Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam. Roll out half of the remaining marzipan and use the base of the cake as a template to cut out another disc. Place it on top of the cake and crimp the edges, if you like. Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 equal-sized balls for the apostles. Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the apostles in a circle on top around the outside, and brush them with a little egg too. Put under a hot grill for a minute or two until just starting to caramelise – be very careful as the marzipan will burn easily. Leave to cool.

5

This cake will cut better after resting for at least a day if you can wait that long, If you cut it into 11 portions, each serving will have its own marzipan ball on top.

Simnel Cake
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