Simnel cake: a spring time classic

A classic for Easter or Mothering Sunday, our easy-to-follow recipe shows you how to make delicious simnel cake packed full of fruit, spices and marzipan in 6 simple steps.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours 10 minutes 

Serves: 12


  • 600g (1lb 5oz) luxury mixed dried fruit
  • 2 tablespoons cut mixed peel
  • 50g (1¾ oz) light brown muscovado sugar
  • 225ml (8fl oz) freshly made strong Indian tea
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 100g (3½ oz) butter, cut into chunks
  • 675g (1lb 8oz) marzipan
  • 100g (3½ oz) flaked almonds
  • 225g (8oz) self-raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3 eggs, beaten


  1. Put the dried fruit in a large saucepan. Stir in the mixed peel, sugar, tea, orange zest and juice. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted. Set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Heat the oven to 160°C (325°F, gas mark 3). Line and grease a 20cm (8in) round deep cake tin. Roll out a third of the marzipan on a lightly floured surface to a 20cm (8in) circle.
  3. Stir the flaked almonds into the fruit mixture, then sift in the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly until glossy.
  4. Pour half the mixture into the tin and top with the circle of marzipan, without pressing it down. Add the remaining mixture and level it out evenly. Bake for 1¾-2 hours, checking after 1½ hours and covering it loosely with foil, if necessary, until risen and cracked on top. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn it out on to a wire rack and remove the lining paper.
  5. Shape 11 small balls from about a third of the remaining marzipan. Roll out the rest into an 18cm (70in) circle between two pieces of cling film. Peel off the top film and pat or trim the edge of the paste neatly, then lift it on the underneath sheet of film and invert it onto the hot cake. Smooth the top of the paste evenly before peeling off the film. Arrange the balls around the edge and leave to cool completely.
  6. Heat the grill on the hottest setting. Transfer the cake to a baking sheet and place it under the grill for about 30 seconds to brown the top of the marzipan. Leave to cool before storing in an airtight container. Allow the cake to mature for at least 1 day before serving.