Traditional Easter Simnel Cake

This is our favourite recipe for a traditional Simnel Cake. It’s based on Nigella Lawson’s recipe with tweaks to make it work dairy free. The marzipan balls on top are great fun for the children to make. There are supposed to be eleven (for the disciples of Christ minus Judas, of course) but, when you have help making them, this can sometimes vary! Still, preparing special food together is what celebration times are all about.

For this recipe you will need an electric hand held mixer, two mixing bowls, an 8″ / 20cm spring form tin, some silicone baking paper, a couple of sheets of newspaper (or more baking paper: more expensive, but just as effective), real string (NOT plastic string as it may well melt in the oven) and a cake rack.

Recipe: Traditional Simnel Cake


  • 6oz / 175g softened Tomor
  • 6oz / 175g caster sugar
  • 8oz / 225g plain flour
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1oz / 25g ground almonds
  • 3 large, free-range eggs, plus 1 egg white all lightly beaten together
  • 2 tbsps soya milk
  • 1lb 2oz / 5oog mixed dried fruit
  • 3 ½oz / 100g glace cherries, finely chopped/minced
  • 12½oz / 400g golden marzipan
  • a little icing sugar for rolling out the marzipan
  • 1 tbsp melted and sieved apricot jam
  • 1lb 3½oz / 6oog golden marzipan for decorating
  • 1 egg white for bronzing the decorations


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/ Gas mark 4
  2. Grease and line the bottom and sides of an 8 inch / 20cm springform cake tin with two layers of silicone paper.
  3. Make sure that the top edge of the side pieces is about 2 inches / 5cm higher than the edge of the tin.
  4. Wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside of the tin and tie it with string.
  5. Cream the butter and sugar together until they are very soft, fluffy and pale.
  6. Stir in the lemon zest.
  7. Put the flour into a mixing bowl and add the baking powder, the cinnamon the ginger and the ground almonds. Make sure that your additions are fairly evenly distributed.
  8. Add about one third of your eggs to the creamed Tomor and sugar with a heaped tbsp of the flour mixture and beat it in.
  9. Repeat for the rest of the eggs. If the mixture starts to curdle, sprinkle in a little more of the flour and spice mix to stop it. Don’t panic, it’s usually salvageable this way.
  10. Beat in the remaining flour and spice mix until smooth.
  11. Add the soya milk and beat again.
  12. Fold in the dried and glacé fruit.
  13. Dust your clean work surface with a little icing sugar and roll out the 12½ oz / 400g lump of marzipan into an 8 inch / 20cm diameter circle.
  14. Spoon half your cake mix into the tin and smooth it out with the back of the spoon.
  15. Lay the marzipan circle on top of it.
  16. Spoon the rest of the cake mix on top and smooth it out as before.
  17. Put it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  18. Turn the oven down to 150C/Gas mark 2 and bake for another 1½ hours until the cake is just firm to the finger tips when you test the top.
  19. Allow the cake to cool completely ona cake rack before opening the tin.
  20. To decorate, roll out another 12½ oz / 400g of the golden marzipan into another 8 inch / 20cm circle as before.
  21. Paint the top of the cake with the melted, sieved apricot jam.
  22. Stick on the marzipan.
  23. Make your 11 apostles out of the remaining 7 oz / 2oog of golden marzipan.
  24. Beat the extra egg white until it is softly frothy.
  25. Use the egg white to stick on the apostle balls and then brush it all over the marzipan decoration.
  26. Using a blow-torch, bronze it gently for that glowing look.

Quick Notes

This makes a beautiful centre-piece for a tea table or a party spread.

Total preparation time : 1 hour

Cooking time : 2 hours

Diet type: Dairy free

Number of servings (yield): 12

Meal type: dessert

Culinary tradition: English

Microformatting by hRecipe.

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