Simnel Cake

Here’s a lovely rich cake for Easter. If you love marzipan then this is for you. The 11 marzipan balls that decorate the top represent Jesus’s 11 remaining disciples after Judas died.

Serves: 12

Time: 150 – 160 minutes + cooling

Level: A small step up from “Easy”

Tins: 1 x 23cm round, loose bottomed cake tin

Credit: Based on an original recipe by Mary Berry


  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • large pinch of salt
  • 125g glace cherries
  • 375g mixed dried fruit
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g light brown muscovado sugar
  • zest of 1 – 2 lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 480g – 500g marzipan
  • 4 Tbsp apricot jam
  • Mini-eggs or other chocolate to decorate (optional, but nice)


1. Preheat oven to 180C/Fan 160C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and line the base and double line the inside of the tin then dust lightly with flour.

2.  Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

3. Cut the cherries into halves, rinse off the syrup then dry them thoroughly on kitchen paper. Put them in a second bowl with the dried fruit. Stir in just enough flour to fully coat all the fruit – about a tablespoon or a little more.

4. Put the softened butter in a large mixing bowl and beat well, until light and creamy. Add the sugar and lemon zest and beat some more – until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually, beating well after each addition. Also, add a teaspoon of the flour after each egg to stop the mixture curdling. Finally, stir in the ground almonds.

5. Add the flour mixture into the wet mixture, sifting it a second time as you do so. Use a large metal spoon to fold it in gently then fold in the fruit mixture and stir in the milk.

6. Pour half the combined mixture into the tin. Cut off about a third of the marzipan and roll it into a round that sits on top of the cake, not quite touching the sides of the tin. Spread the rest of the cake mixture on top of the marzipan .

7. Tap the tin on the worktop a few times to dislodge any pockets of air then bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. After this time, reduce the heat to 170C/Fan 150C/325F/Gas 3 and bake for a further 60 – 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (Don’t push the skewer into the marzipan layer.) You may need to cover the cake with foil in the latter stages if it appears to be darkening too much. Once baked, place the tin on a wire rack to cool completely.

8. Remove the cake from the tin and peel off any baking paper.

9. Use about a third of the remaining marzipan to create 11 balls about the size of a Brussel sprout or smaller if you wish.  Use the rest to make a thickish round to sit on top of the cake.

10. Warm the apricot jam and sieve it into a bowl. Brush the top of the cake lightly with some of the warmed jam then sit the marzipan round on top. Press it down firmly in the centre and add crimps to the outer edge. Use the remaining warm jam to attach the eleven marzipan balls in a circle.

11. Before serving, lightly brown the top under a hot grill or with a cook’s blowtorch then add mini-eggs or other chocolate decorations (if using).