Simnel Cake

This spiced fruit cake has a layer of marzipan and another one on top. Originally the cake was baked by girls in service to take home with them on Mothering Sunday. It is now more traditional to have Simnel Cake at Easter time.

Plus: After serving the remaining cake may be stored in an airtight tin for at least four weeks. To make your own homemade marzipan: Mix 225g ground almonds with 225g caster sugar, 115g sieved icing sugar, the juice of 1/2 lemon and one egg yolk. Bind together. If necessary, use a little egg white.


For the Marzipan layers:

500g bought Marzipan or made from 225g ground Almonds (see recipe below)

For the Cake:
  • 175g Raisins
  • 175g Sultanas
  • 80g Glace cherries, chopped
  • 80g Walnut pieces, chopped
  • 115ml Stout
  • 175g Butter softened
  • 175g Soft Dark Brown Sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 225g Plain Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Mixed Spice
  • 3 tbsp Apricot Jam, sieved for the top


  1. Grease and line an 18cm deep cake tin.
  2. Make the marzipan and chill whilst preparing the cake.
  3. Place the fruit, walnuts and stout in a pan and heat until steaming. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 60 mins.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs.
  5. Fold in the sieved flour, baking powder and spice.
  6. Carefully stir in the soaked fruit and liquid.
  7. Place half the mixture into the tin and smooth the top.
  8. Divide the marzipan into 3 and roll out one piece to a circle and place on the cake mixture. Add the remaining cake mixture and smooth the top.
  9. Bake Gas 3 140C for 2 21/2 hrs until pale golden and a skewer comes out clean.
  10. Leave the cake to stand in the tin for 15 mins before turning out onto a wire tray to cool completely.
  11. When cold remove the lining paper and brush the top with apricot jam.
  12. Roll out another piece of marzipan and fit into position.
  13. Score the surface to make a diamond pattern and roll the remainder of marzipan into 11 even-sized balls and press around the rim of the cake.
  14. Place under a grill and toast gently until the marzipan is just golden brown.

Recipe kindly supplied by Jill Brand Preserves & Cookery Judge and tutor at Denman College.