Traditional Easter Simnel Cake decorated with balls of marzipan and yellow primroses

Simnel Cake

I really like fruit cake – any sort of fruit cake and I love marzipan, so a traditional Easter Simnel Cake which combines the two is one of my favourite cakes, and is always part of my family’s Easter celebrations.

History of Simnel Cake

Simnel cake dates back to medieval times and is traditionally served at Easter. The marzipan balls which decorate the top represent the eleven faithful apostles.

I like to complete the decoration with some fresh spring flowers but Easter chicks and mini chocolate eggs are a popular alternative.

The cake is also made for Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day when it is just decorated with spring flowers without the marzipan balls.

If you like fruit cake as much as me you might also like to try my old fashioned fruit cake recipe.

Simnel Cake

Course: SnacksCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Moderate


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time






  • 8 ounces / 225 grams softened salted butter

  • 8 ounces / 225 grams caster sugar

  • 4 ounces / 110 grams plain flour

  • 5 ounces / 150 grams self raising flour

  • 4 large eggs

  • 5 ounces / 150 grams currants

  • 5 ounces / 150 grams raisins

  • 5 ounces / 150 grams sultanas

  • 3 ounces / 85 grams glacé cherries

  • 3 ounces / 85 grams candied mixed peel

  • Rind of 2 medium oranges

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 8 ounces / 225 grams marzipan

  • To finish
  • 1 pound / 450 grams marzipan

  • A little beaten egg

  • 1 tablespoon apricot jam melted


  • Pre-heat the oven to 150°C / 130°C Fan / 300°F / Gas Mark 2.
  • Grease and line an 8 inch / 20 cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time beating well between each addition.
  • Mix in the flour (no need to sieve) cinnamon, nutmeg and orange rind.
  • Add the dried and candied / glacé fruit and mix thoroughly.
  • Roll out the 8 ounces / 225 grams of marzipan to an 8 inch / 20 cm diameter round. I roll it between two sheets of baking parchment to prevent sticking and use the bottom of an 8 inch / 20 cm loose bottomed flan tin to trim this to shape.
  • Put half your cake mixture into your prepared cake tin spread evenly and top with the round of marzipan.
  • Pile the remaining cake mixture on top of the marzipan and level out evenly.
  • Bake in the pre-heated oven for 2½ – 3 hours until well risen, golden brown and firm to touch. Cover with baking parchment or foil half way through baking if it seems to be browning too quickly.
  • Leave in the tin until completely cold.
  • Remove from the tin and strip off the lining paper.
  • At this point the cake can be stored in an airtight tin until you are ready to decorate.
    Keeping the cake for at least a week before serving will improve the flavour and texture.
  • Finishing the cake
  • Roll out about 12 ounces / 330 grams marzipan to an 8 inch / 20 cm round, trimming neatly as before.
  • Brush the top of the cake with melted apricot jam and press the marzipan round firmly in place. Crimp the edges.
  • Roll the remaining marzipan into eleven small balls.
  • Brush the marzipan topping with beaten egg and arrange the marzipan balls evenly around the edge of the cake, and brush them with the beaten egg.
  • Place the cake under a hot grill or use a blow torch to brown the marzipan.
  • Finally place the cake on a serving dish and decorate with spring flowers or other Easter themed decorations.
  • If you have any of the cake left it will keep for several weeks in an airtight tin.

Recipe Video


Easter Recipes

See my other Easter recipes – 1950s Easter Biscuits and Hot Cross Buns.

Happy Baking!

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