Simnel Sunday


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A Simnel Cake is traditionally eaten at Easter to mark the end of the Lent period. It is much like a Christmas Cake but made with marzipan instead of icing. It's decorated to signify aspects of Christianity and the 11 balls placed around the top of the cake represent the 11 disciples. There were 12 disciples but as Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus he doesn't get a ball!



  • 250g/9oz caster sugar

  • 250g/9oz ground almonds

  • 2 free-range eggs, beaten

  • 1 tsp almond essence


  • 175g/6oz butter or margarine

  • 175g/6oz soft brown sugar

  • 3 free-range eggs, beaten

  • 175g/6oz plain flour

  • Pinch salt

  • ½ tsp ground mixed spice (optional)

  • 350g/12oz mixed raisins, currants and sultanas

  • 55g/2oz chopped mixed peel

  • ½ lemon, grated zest only

  • 1-2 tbsp apricot jam

  • 1 free-range egg, beaten for glazing

eggs, soft brown sugar and ground almonds

Preparation Method

1. For the almond paste, place the almonds and sugar into a bowl. Add the beaten egg slowly and mix to a soft consistency.

2. Add the almond essence and knead for one minute until the paste is smooth and pliable.

3. Roll out a third of the almond paste to a circle 18cm in diameter and put the rest to one side for the topping.

4. Preheat the oven to 145C/ 275F/ Gas 1.


 cake mixture

5. For the cake, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Sift in the flour, salt and mixed spice a little at a time. Finally, stir in the mixed fruit, peel and lemon zest.

6. Put half the mixture into a greased and lined 18cm/7in cake tin. Smooth the top and cover with the circle of almond paste. Add the rest of the cake mixture and smooth the top leaving a slight dip in the centre to allow for the cake to rise. Bake in the preheated oven for 1¾ hours. Test by inserting a skewer in the middle - if it comes out clean, it is ready. Once baked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack.


7. Brush the top of the cooled cake with apricot jam. Divide the remainder of the almond paste in half; roll out a circle to cover the top of the cake with one half and form 11 small balls with the other half.

8. Place the circle of paste onto of the jam and set the balls round the edge. Brush the cake topping with a little beaten egg.

9.  Preheat the grill to high. Place the cake onto a baking tray and grill for 1-2 minutes, or until the top of the marzipan begins to brown. Alternatively, lightly heat the cake topping using a cook's blow torch, until the marzipan is golden-brown.


Simnel Cake

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