Simple Simnel Cake

Simnel cake is a light fruit cake, similar to a Christmas cake, covered in marzipan, and eaten during Lent or at Easter. They have been around since mediaeval times, and were originally a Mothering Sunday tradition, when daughters would make one to be taken home to their mothers.

This Gluten Free version was made by my girlfriend for my mum for Mother’s Day and is based upon Mary Berry’s version from the BBC Recipe site.

(Printable Recipe)

175g/6oz Light Muscavado Sugar
175g/6oz Butter, softened
175g/6oz Self Raising Flour
3 Large Eggs
25g/1oz Ground Almonds
2 tbsp Milk
100g/4oz Sultanas
100g/4oz Cherries, quartered, washed, and dried
100g/4oz Dried apricots, snipped into small pieces
1 tsp Mixed Spice
2 tsp Ground Ginger
To serve:
450g/1lb Golden Marzipan
3 tbsp Apricot Jam
1 Egg, beaten

Preheat oven 160C/320F/Gas 3.

1 Grease and line the base and sides of an 20cm/8in deep, round cake tin with baking parchment.

2 Measure all the cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat well until thoroughly blended. Place half the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.

3 Take one third of the marzipan and roll into a circle the same size as the cake tin, place the circle on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining mixture on top of the marzipan and level the surface.

4 Bake for about one and three-quarter to two hours or until golden brown and firm in the middle. If toward the end of the cooking time the cake is getting too brown, loosely cover with a piece of foil. Allow the cake to cool in the tin before turning onto a cooling rack.

5 When the cake is cool. Brush the top with the apricot jam (warmed). Roll out half the remaining marzipan to the size of the cake and sit it on the top. Crimp the edges of the marzipan and make a lattice pattern in the centre of the marzipan using a sharp knife. Make 11 even sized balls from the remaining marzipan and arrange around the edge.

6 Brush with beaten egg and glaze under a hot grill for about five minutes, turning the cake round so it browns evenly, so the marzipan is tinged brown all over. (You can also do this with a blow torch if preferred).

Decorate with edible flowers.



6 thoughts on “Simple Simnel Cake”

  1. Lovely, just starting to think about making my simnel cake for Mother’s Day (although, if truth be told, it’s my Dad that really enjoys it).

  2. The marzipan layer inside simnel cake is divine!
    I don’t make simnel cake anymore as we have so many sweet things in the house for Easter.

  3. ooh it’s quite early for Simnel Cake. Mary Berry is just so reliable for baking recipes, I’ve been using her recipes since the early 80’s.

  4. Thanks for the reminder, Giles. It is about time to get the ingredients together for my annual Simnel Cake, which I make on or close to Mothering Sunday so it is ready to eat at Easter. I use my grandmother’s rich fruit cake recipe which is the same as I use for our Christmas cake. Yours looks delicious: my husband would approve of the generous amounts of marzipan!

  5. This looks lovely and a timely reminder to get my skates on if I want to make one this year. Also like the idea of using apricots.

  6. I’ve just made my simnel cake – based on the recipe you’ve given. The apricots were a must – except when I went to get them from the cupboard, I didn’t have any – oh wow! I had to substitute them with pineapple and papaya instead, but it won’t be as good for sure.

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