Fruity simnel squares

Fruity simnel squares

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(15 ratings)

Prep: 40 mins Cook: 1 hr Plus soaking


Cuts into 15 squares
This easy twist on the classic fruit sponge makes plenty of squares - all decorated with marzipan eggs

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal576
  • fat25g
  • saturates10g
  • carbs79g
  • sugars65g
  • fibre3g
  • protein9g
  • salt0.5g
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  • 250g mixed dried fruit
  • 100g dried apricot, chopped
  • 85g glacé cherry, chopped
  • zest 2 oranges, juice 1 orange (use the second in the topping)



    One of the best-known citrus fruits, oranges aren't necessarily orange - some varieties are…

  • 200g butter, softened, plus extra for the tin



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 4 large egg
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almond
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 500g marzipan, 200g/7oz cut into 2cm chunks, the rest for the topping
    Marzipan cake



    One of mankind’s oldest sources of sweet pleasure, marzipan needs to contain only ground…

For the topping

  • 50g butter



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 50g light muscovado sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 100g flaked almond
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 85g icing sugar, sieved
  • 2-3 tsp orange juice


  1. Soak all the dried fruit in the orange juice for 2 hrs, or overnight.

  2. Butter and line a 20 x 30cm tin with baking parchment. Heat oven to 160C/ 140C fan/gas 3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time; mix well between each addition.

  3. Sift the flour into the bowl and mix in the ground almonds and spices. Add the marzipan chunks, zest and dried fruit with any remaining juice, and give everything a good stir to combine.

  4. Tip the cake mix into the prepared tin, level the surface, and bake for 45 mins – the cake may still be a little gooey in the centre at this point. Remove from the oven and increase the heat to 200C/ 180C fan/gas 6.

  5. Make the topping. Rub the butter, sugar and flour together with your fingers to a crumbly breadcrumb texture. Grate in 200g reserved marzipan, add the flaked almonds and golden syrup. Mix everything with a fork, making sure it stays crumbly and doesn’t clump. Sprinkle over the cake and return to the oven for 12-15 mins. Meanwhile, divide the rest of the marzipan into 11 and roll into balls.

  6. Remove the cake from the oven once cooked through, arrange the marzipan balls on top and allow to cool in the tin. Mix the icing sugar with enough orange juice to give a runny icing, drizzle it all over the cake, then let it set a little before slicing it.

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Comments (20)

cshobbs's picture

This is fantastic! I baked this just after Easter, so omitted the marzipan balls and icing. The cake is very rich and filling, and easily divides into a lot more than 15 portions, so next time I'll make a half quantity.

sarahkdouglas's picture

Not sure about this one. As others have said, it's extremely sweet, and that was without the icing and golden syrup. The crumble topping was also not what I was hoping - the marzipan got very chewy and almost burnt, and when it was cooked the topping just fell off. Not sure it can really qualify as simnel cake, and I don't think I'll be making this again.

janetbattersby's picture

My friend said this is the most delicious cake she has ever tasted. Definitely only for marzipan fans. It is fabulous and I will make it again. I will probably choose it as my Christmas cake. I left out the syrup and it was still very sweet.

willsergf's picture

I made this for Easter and used a 28cm x 28cm roasting tin which was the perfect size. It was enjoyed by all the family but I personally thought the addition of the marzipan to the cake mix made it a bit sweet. I would definitely try the suggestion about adding the golden syrup after spreading the topping on the cake as it was difficult stop it from clumping, or omit it altogether, if I made it again. A special occasion cake as it is quite expensive to make and a bit time consuming.

ellie_bee42's picture

Just made this and it was very yummy and easy to do. I made it in a 28X18cm tin and that was fine. I also added some grand marnier to the mixture (1 tsp) as I forgot to soak the raisins and I thought it would give it something extra.
I reduced the sugar to 175g in the cake but kept the amounts the same for the topping, although I didn't add the golden syrup.
I didn't have any dried apricots so I just added more raisins and that worked well too.

Definitely worth a go but it's very rich. Definitely for special occasions!

ecocyclist's picture

Golden syrup AND marzipan AND icing on a rich sweet fruit cake? I've got reservations about this. I might make the basic cake, which looks lovely, but not at all sure about the topping.

janemr's picture

Oops, sorry, I forgot I had already commented!

janemr's picture

As a lover of marzipan I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. This is truly a WONDERFUL cake. Don't wait for Easter. I have to make it regularly now or I get complaints.

kirstienic's picture

Very tasty (I'm not even a big fan of marzipan) and not too sweet. I made it in a slightly bigger tin and cut it into more servings, which worked well, they didn't need to be any bigger.

Frantic Flapjack's picture

A great idea to cut into squares but I found the finished cake far too sweet and cloying. You really don't need the topping and the icing. If I make again I would just make the basic cake.

syrilsquirrel's picture

Delicious and pretty easy! Failed dismally to stop crumble clumping together but is still looked and tasted great. Will definitely be making again next Easter.

Rowena Wilkes's picture

Really great recipe. I made this to take round to my mothers for easter monday and she loved it! I had trouble trying to stop the crumble topping clumping together but it still tasted great. Very happy with this recipe, although time-consuming, its worth it!

janemr's picture

This was absolutely stunning! Used a knife to "cut" the golden syrup through the topping mixture. Even without the topping it would be delicious and I may do that on a regular basis. Nothing else to add except that some-one keeps raiding the cake tin!

ruthmary's picture

Great recipe - made twice. 2nd time used a larger shallower tin which worked well. Also used `Doves` gluten free flour. The topping works fine if you gently work with a fork. Decorated top with marzipan balls & mini eggs, browned marzipan with a blow torch & drizzled icing over. Yum!

rosenstielj's picture

A great new take on Simnel Cake. Made it withiout the icing which was fine and cut the squares smaller. A small piece of Wensleydale cheese goes very well with the cake. Excellent for people who like marzipan. Will make again.

miaarmstrong's picture

A fab recipe, I overcame the golden syrup causing the top to go clumpy by putting the dry mix on top and then squeezing the golden syrup over the top. Worked a treat.

patticake's picture

I am a little confused about the method for the topping. If you add any type of liquid, in this case golden syrup, to a crumble mix it will clump together. I have made it using just 1 tbls of syrup as it seemed to be a lot of sweetness. Still clumped but looks good. Not eaten yet. That's for tomorrow!

anne_f_'s picture

This is delicious, but needs a bigger tin than the recipe says!

claireriches's picture

My son has just made this at school for his GCSE Food Tech. He had to make something from an Easter recipe. Although the ingredients were quite expensive the finished cake was well worth it. Absolutely delicious even the nut and marzipan hating members of the family loved it.

featherhee's picture

Made this gorgeous interpretation of a simnel cake for the family. Absolutely delicious! It is quite time-consuming with all the soaking, mixing, baking, topping, baking again and icing stages (kitchen smells wonderful!) but it is amazingly irresistible and I will make it again, possibly experimenting with a slightly larger tin to make a greater number of shallower tray bakes which might go down better with the weight watchers!! Yum!

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