Simnel Cherry Cheesecake

Here’s my new favourite Easter cake. Traditionally, Simnel cakes, have 11 marzipan balls which represent the disciples of Jesus, minus Judas. They’re great cakes, but I love cheesecake too, so I’ve combined the two classics into one glorious cake.  

If, like me, you love marzipan and almonds and cherries this is THE cheesecake for you. It’s absolutely gorgeous. The base is crushed Amoretti biscuits and flaked almonds, then there’s a marzipan layer. Next is the cherry cheesecake, topped with smooth jam then… (Exciting isn’t it?) ….you have 11 marzipan balls. And inside each of these is…. yes, you guessed…a cherry.

Time: Around 2 hours + cooling time, but this can be broken down over two or more days if necessary. (i.e. make the base one day, the cheesecake the next, decorate the next day.)

Makes: 10 – 12 nice big slices (No one will want a small one.)

Level: A little challenging, but well worth it.

Need: 20cm/8” round, loose-bottomed cake tin, 1 or 2Bake even bands”*, a cook’s torch to burnish the marzipan balls, or use the grill.

* I prefer to use dampened “Bake Even Bands” for cheesecakes rather than a bain marie. If you don’t have any, you could wrap and tie parchment paper round the outside of your tin.


Base layer

  • 250g/9oz Amoretti biscuits
  • 50g/1¾oz flaked almonds, crushed but not ground finely
  • 75g/2.5oz unsalted butter + a little more to grease the inside of the tin later

Second layer (marzipan)

  • Marzipan – About 150g/5½oz – 175g/6oz

Third layer (the cheesecake)

  • 150g/5½oz caster sugar
  • 250g/9oz full fat cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia)
  • 250g/9oz mascarpone
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 50ml/1¾ fl oz Amoretto liqueur (optional “extra”, but very nice)
  • 4 tbsp plain flour + 1 tsp for the cherries (see below)
  • 75g/2½oz glace cherries, chopped small & tossed in 1 tsp flour

Top layer (jam + marzipan balls)

  • A 340g/12oz jar of good quality cherry jam. (You won’t need all of it, maybe about 250g/9oz depending how thick a layer you want.)
  • 140g/5oz marzipan
  • 11 whole glace cherries

**N.B. A week before making this cheesecake I produced a smaller “test” version using a 15cm/6” tin. Later, I’ll add the details of the ingredients in case you prefer making a smaller one.


1. Grease and line the base of the tin. At some point you will need to preheat the oven to 180°C / fan 160°C / 350°F / Gas 4. (You will also need to make sure there’s room in your fridge to chill the cheesecake later.)

2. Whizz or bash all the biscuits until finely crumbled then stir in the flaked almonds*. Melt the butter then add into the biscuit crumbs. Stir well to coat all the pieces. (*Keep back 1 – 2 Tbsp if you want to coat the inside of the tin later)

3. Press the mixture into the base of the tin, using the back of a spoon or the flat side of a plastic dough scraper. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes then set aside to cool.

4. Roll out the marzipan and cut to size then press gently onto the cooled base layer.

5. Put all the cheesecake ingredients except the cherries into a large mixing bowl. Mix well, until everything is incorporated and smooth then stir in the floured cherries.

6. (Optional) Lightly brush melted butter inside the cake tin and sprinkle generously with the retained biscuit crumbs until nicely coated.

7. Gently, pour the cheesecake mixture into the tin.

8. Tap the tin firmly on a work surface to release any air bubbles then bake for around 40 minutes. (It needs to be not quite set, with a slight wobble in the middle.) Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in for at least an hour to cool, with the door slightly ajar. Place in the fridge for 1 – 2 hours. (If cracks appear, don’t worry, the jam will hide them.)

9. While the cheesecake is baking or cooling, make the 11 balls. For each one roll 12g of marzipan into a ball then use a rolling pin to flatten into a circle. Place a cherry in the middle of each circle and wrap with the marzipan. Roll in the palm of your hands until spherical.

10. To burnish the marzipan balls, either use a cook’s torch or place them under the grill (broiler in U.S., I believe.) Get the grill very hot first and keep a close eye on them. Mine only took a minute to brown on top.

11. Previously, for my small test cake, I strained the jam through a sieve to remove the cherries and lumps. This was a bit tedious, so on the next occasion I used my mini food processor, which proved far better. Whichever method you choose, you need a smooth jam to spoon or brush onto the cheesecake.  If necessary put the cheesecake in the fridge for a while before adding the 11 marzipan balls to finish off the cake.

12. Eat, share, enjoy and Praise God for Easter.

N.B. Rather than break up the above instructions with lots of useful but intrusive pictures I’ve added several galleries to help guide you.

Gallery 1

Gallery 2

 Gallery 3

Ingredients and details for 15cm/6″ version

Base layer

  • 150g/5.5oz biscuits
  • 35g/1oz flaked almonds
  • 50g/1.75oz unsalted butter

Second layer (marzipan)

  • 125g/4.5oz Marzipan

Third layer (the cheesecake)

  • 110g/3.5oz caster sugar
  • 180g/6oz full fat cream cheese
  • 180g/6oz mascarpone
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 3 tbsp plain flour + 1 tsp
  • 50g/1.75oz glace cherries, chopped & tossed in 1 tsp flour

Top layer

  • About 200g/7oz cherry jam.
  • 6 cherries
  • 75g/2.5oz marzipan

These ingredients in a 15cm/6″ tin will produce a cheesecake a little higher than the one in the main recipe, so the baking time will be similar: around 40 minutes.

Whether it’s the large one or the small one, I hope you enjoy this super cheesecake. If you want to see more cheesecake recipes click here.  Two special ones I’d like to recommend are: my Chocolate and Orange Cheesecake and my White Chocolate and Blueberry Cheesecake.


As these cheesecakes are so tasty and so popular, I’ve just made a “sister bake”, a gluten free Apricot version. Here’s the link, have a look: Simnel Apricot Cheesecake.

Please have a look at the rest of my site for lots of other recipes, sweet and savoury. If you’d like to comment or ask a question that would be good, please go to the contact page.

Happy Baking everyone