Simple simnel cake

Simple simnel cake

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(9 ratings)


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Cooking time

Prep: 1 hr, 20 mins Cook: 1 hr, 50 mins

Skill level



This is a perfect quick-mix-fix for Easter - based on traditional recipes

Nutrition and extra info

Additional info

  • Freezable
  • Vegetarian
Nutrition info

Nutrition per serving

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  • 2 oranges, grated zest and juice
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau
  • 350g mixed dried fruits
  • 100g whole glacé cherries
  • 250g pack marzipan
  • 200g soft butter, diced
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk

For the caramel almonds

  • 50g blanched almonds
  • 100g caster sugar

For the icing sugar

  • 125g icing sugar
  • zest 1 orange
  • 1-1½ tbsp orange juice

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  1. Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Tip the zest and juice into a bowl. Add the Cointreau, mixed fruit and cherries. Meanwhile, grease and line the base and sides of a 2kg loaf tin with baking parchment. Shape the marzipan into a sausage the length of the tin, then roll out to the width with a rolling pin.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, flour and eggs and milk in a bowl and beat with an electric hand-whisk until smooth. Stir in the mixed fruit and their juices. Spoon half the mixture into the loaf tin, then cover with the layer of marzipan. Top with the rest of the cake mixture and smooth the top. Bake for 1 hr 50 mins until risen and firm to the touch. (Take care if you are checking by piercing with a skewer as you may pierce the marzipan and think that the cake is not cooked yet.) Cool in tin, peel away the paper once cold. It will keep wrapped in foil for 2 weeks.
  3. To make the caramel almonds, tip the almonds into a frying pan and heat, swirling the pan so the almonds toast. Tip from the pan then add the sugar to the pan and heat until the sugar turns to a liquid caramel – take care not to heat it too fast or it will burn. Add the almonds, then pour onto a greased baking sheet to set. Will keep in a cool place for 2 days.
  4. Decorate the cake on the day you eat it, as the caramel will dissolve on contact with the cake. Mix the icing sugar with the orange zest and juice until smooth, then pour over the cake. The mix is quite wet and will dribble down the sides. Chop the almond caramel, scatter over the icing and leave until the icing sets.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, April 2005

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cookiemonster799's picture

Fab! Best simnel recipe I've tried! Will definitely make this again, everyone loved it. Topping made it special and was still delicious and moist a week later. I used a normal deep 8" round cake tin and cooked for time stated. (Also added half tsp mixed spice and quarter tsp nutmeg to the flour).

heatherkeen's picture

A lovely simnel cake, I love the addition of the Cointreau! I made a traditional round with traditional topping (8" round I think) because I couldn't work out the loaf tin size either!

sallythorp's picture

A delicious cake that the whole family enjoyed! I used half the quantities used in the recipe in a 2lb loaf tin and cooked it for about an hour and a quarter which was just right. I didn't put the almonds on top and it was still fantastic.

lizzylouise's picture

I have made this several times and it is lovely and goes down well.As was suggested i cook it in 2 2lb loaf tins for 1 hour.We have had it instead of xmas cake as we like cooked marzipan rather than raw.It slices well and is not too rich and heavy like a traditional xmas cake.You do not need as much marzipan as stated.

patcantelli's picture
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I have been cooking this cake since I got the magazine in April 2005. Everyone who tries it thinks it is delicious. I have recently modified it to reduce the saturated fat content by:
Using one whole egg and 3 egg whites
Using dark brown sugar rather than golden caster sugar
Replacing butter with 100ml of oil
My husband thinks it now tastes even better-if this is possible!
I do cook it way more often than once a year

tartanlove's picture
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Beware the odd tin size, as others have commented! I misread it, and used a 2lb loaf tin, and needless to say ended up with burnt cake on the oven base. It took ages to cook too. My hand mixer also struggled with the amount of mixture too - a food mixer might be better. Nice cake, easy to make, but would be better if it were for 2 lb size.

maryechappell's picture
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A lovely cake, it was a bit big for my tin. As a change instead of mixed dried fruits I added some chopped dried tropical fruits plus some sultanas.
To make a smaller cake I will try half quantities.

emmawelsh's picture
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matata, I think I have had about 10 slices from the one I have just made for easter. This recipe is great, it was simple but the dried fruit (I used dried cranberries instead of cherries due to personal preference) and lovely topping make it feel very special indeed. Also the gooey marzipan layer through the middle does look fab and very impressive once cut. Will definitely make again next year, the only change being, that I will allow myself more time to get a really good marzipan as by the time I went shopping I had the choice of one, and that was a cheap and very sweet one.

nevynevster's picture
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I make this alot. The marzipan is lovely inside and as we all love the stuff we actually roll out a proper "simnel" topping of marzipan on the top too. Cake is moist & light

hakuna's picture

gives calorific content, etc, per serving, but doesn't say how many it serves. does anybody know? fantastic flavour, by the way!

canaryjane's picture
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Have made this for Easter and I am really pleased with the result, as I didn't have a 2 kg tin I used two 2lb loaf tins and they cooked in just over the hour. I also only put a thin roll of marzipan through the centre of the cake mix as it was all I had, but it looked really good when sliced.
Just as well I made two as one has nearly all gone, I will definitely make this again.

kimpton's picture

I made this cake using a 2lb loaf tin as I was not sure what a 2kg loaf tin was, so i had a bit of leakage.

Perhaps you could make the tin size imperial as most tins come in that.

love_to_cook's picture

Two years ago in my dentist's waiting room in South Africa, I browsed through a BBC Good Food magazine dated April 2005. The cover showed a beautiful Simnel Cake, but alas the recipe had been torn out. The receptionist gave me the magazine, which I have kept.

Browsing through it today, I realised that as I now use the internet, I might be able to find the missing recipe. A quick Google search yielded your excellent website, and the "simple simnel cake" recipe at last!

Thank You!

phillo's picture
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This was fantastic - the topping really made it special.