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Ginger simnel cake with spring flowers

Ginger simnel cake with spring flowers

A star rating of 4.8 out of 5.12 ratingsRate
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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep: -
    • Cook:
    • Plus 2 hours' drying time
  • More effort
  • Cuts into 12 slices

As well as the topping, the cake has a hidden layer of homemade marzipan mixed with ginger...

  • Freezable (without flowers)
Nutrition: per slice
low insalt0.15g


For the almond paste

  • 200g packet ground almonds
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 50g stem ginger , finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cornflour , plus extra for rolling the almond paste
  • 1 large egg white

For the cake

  • 100g sultanas
  • 100g currants
  • 100g raisins
  • 50g stem ginger , finely chopped
  • 2 tsp tea leaves, or 1 tea bag
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g self-raising flour
  • 100g butter , softened
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs , beaten

For the decoration

  • 2 tbsp apricot jam , warmed in a microwave or small pan
  • icing sugar , for dredging
  • sugar-frosted edible wafer flowers
  • ribbon , to tie round the cake


  • STEP 1

    Make the almond paste. Tip the ground almonds into a bowl and stir in the caster sugar, ginger and cornflour. Pour in the egg white and work together until you have a smooth paste. Roll into a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least half an hour, to firm up.

  • STEP 2

    Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan oven 160C. Line a 7.5cm/3in deep, 18cm/7in round cake tin with non-stick baking parchment. Use two circles for the bottom and two layers of paper for the sides (this will help protect the cake during the long bake).

  • STEP 3

    Make the cake. Mix the fruits and stem ginger in a bowl. Put the tea in another bowl, pour over 125ml/4fl oz boiling water and infuse for 5 minutes. Strain the liquid over the fruit, then stir in the golden syrup and ground ginger.

  • STEP 4

    Sift together the plain and self-raising flours. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric whisk until the mixture is light in colour and drops softly from the beaters. Beat in the eggs a little at a time, then gently stir in the sifted flours until smooth. Finally, stir in the dried fruits and their liquid.

  • STEP 5

    Spoon half the cake mixture into the tin and smooth the surface. Unwrap the almond paste on a surface lightly dusted with cornflour, and roll a third of it into a round to barely cover the surface of the mixture. Lift and place the paste inside the tin and press down to remove any trapped air. Spoon the rest of the cake mixture on top and smooth the surface.

  • STEP 6

    Cover the top of the tin with foil, scrunching it lightly at the sides to hold it in place. Bake for 50 minutes, remove the foil and bake for a further 45 minutes to 1 hour until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean (replace the foil hat if the cake shows signs of overbrowning during this time). Leave in the tin until completely cold, then remove and strip away the lining paper.

  • STEP 7

    For the decoration, put the remaining almond paste on a surface lightly dusted with cornflour and roll into a round that is barely 18cm/7in in diameter. Trim any rough edges using the base of the tin. Brush the jam over the surface of the cake, then press the paste firmly on top, making sure it is centred and even.

  • STEP 8

    Preheat the grill until hot. Place the cake on a baking tray and grill until light brown on top, rotating it to make sure it browns evenly. Remove and leave to cool. (You can make up to this stage in advance – wrap the cake in cling film and keep in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. You can freeze the cake for up to 1 month)

  • STEP 9

    To finish, put the cake on your prettiest serving plate and sift icing sugar over the almond paste. Decorate with a few sugar-frosted flowers, dust lightly with a little extra icing sugar and tie a ribbon around the cake.


is easy: brush petals thoroughly with lightly beaten egg white, sprinkle with caster sugar, shake off excess and leave to dry on a rack for 2 hours (they keep several weeks in an airtight box). Ideally use organically grown violas or pansies - some flowers are toxic.


Home made almond paste tastes nuttier than bought, but if you are in a hurry knead the ginger into 350g/12oz bought white or golden marzipan.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, April 2002


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A star rating of 4.8 out of 5.12 ratings

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