Fruity simnel squares

Fruity simnel squares

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(18 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 a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almond
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg



    One of the most useful of spices for both sweet and savoury

  • 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 a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 50g light muscovado sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 100g flaked almond
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
    Golden syrup

    Golden syrup

    goal-dun sir-rup

    Golden syrup is a clear, sparkling, golden-amber coloured, sweet

  • 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, questions and tips

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16th Apr, 2017
I found this recipe on the Ocado website, but after I'd shopped for it i realised the Ocado version was clearly written by a non baker as it didn't say what sugar and flour was needed for the topping vs cake ..... so relieved to find it was originally a BBC recipe and now I've made it I will definitely be making it again :)
26th Apr, 2013
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.
14th Apr, 2013
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.
10th Apr, 2013
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.
1st Apr, 2013
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.
30th Mar, 2013
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!
27th Mar, 2013
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.
7th Oct, 2012
Oops, sorry, I forgot I had already commented!
7th Oct, 2012
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.
15th May, 2012
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.


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