Simnel cake is a light fruit and marzipan cake, similar to Christmas cake. It is traditionally eaten during Easter in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The top of the cake is covered in almond paste and decorated with eleven marzipan balls placed around the edge. Those are said to represent the true disciples of Jesus (Judas is omitted). In some variations Jesus is also represented by a ball placed at the centre.
Simnel cakes have been baked since medieval times. They later became a Mothering Sunday tradition, when young girls in service would make one to take home to their mothers.
If you want to bake your own Simnel cake to share with your Mum on Mother’s Day or to eat for Easter, you will need the following ingredients:
- 175 g (6 oz) of butter or margarine
- 175 g (6 oz) of soft brown sugar
- 3 medium eggs
- 250 g (9 oz) of self raising flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- ½ a teaspoon of mixed spice
- 5 tablespoons of milk
- 2 teaspoons of golden syrup
- 700 g (24 oz) of mixed dried fruit (or just make your own mixture using your favourite dried fruit)
- 25 g (1 oz) of glacé cherries cut in quarters
- 450 g (1 lb) of almond paste
- A few table spoons of apricot jam
- 1 beaten egg to glaze
Preparation steps for this simple Simnel Cake recipe
- Preheat eat the oven to 180ºC, 350ºF, Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 20.5 cm (8 inch) round cake tin
- Beat the fat and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, with a little flour, mixing well after each
- Stir in the salt and spice and add the milk and syrup with a little more flour. Mix well
- Fold in the remaining flour and fruit. Pour half the Simnel cake mixture into the tin and smooth level
- Then, divide the almond paste in two pieces. Roll out one into a 20.5 cm (8 inch) circle on sugared greaseproof paper, remove from paper and place the marzipan on top of the mixture. Cover with the remaining cake mixture
- Place in the oven and bake for about 1 hour before reducing the temperature to 140ºC, 275ºF, Gas Mark 1 and bake for a further 2½ hours
- Allow the cake to cool and divide the remaining almond paste in two. Roll one half into a 20.5 cm (8 inch) circle, brush the cake with boiled apricot jam diluted with a little water and place the marzipan on top
- Roll the remaining paste into eleven small balls (12 if you want one to symbolise Jesus in the centre)
- Brush the top of cake with beaten egg and place the balls round the edge at regular intervals, then brush again with egg
- Place under a hot grill for a few minutes to brown the marzipan
More Easter ideas
For more festive ideas why not read our Easter Ideas and Gifts to Entertain All the Family post or read our Alternative Easter gifts article? You can also check out our range of Easter Gifts, including balloons, chocolates and cuddly bunny soft toys.