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Simnel cake  picture

Simnel cake

"Sadly, fewer and fewer cooks make a Simnel Cake, which to my mind is much nicer than the heavier Christmas cake. The distinguishing features of a Simnel cake are the eleven marzipan balls on top, said to represent the apostles (minus Judas), which are sometimes shaped like eggs, the symbol of spring and rebirth; and also the extra layer of marzipan in the middle of the cake, or small lumps of marzipan stirred into the mixture, adding richness and flavour."

Cooks in
Difficulty Medium


  • Large pinch each of salt and baking powder
  • 225g / 8oz plain flour
  • 55g / 2oz rice flour
  • 110g / 4oz glacé cherries
  • 225g / 8oz butter
  • 225g / 8oz caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 225g / 8oz sultanas
  • 110g / 4oz currants
  • 30g / 1oz candied peel, chopped
  • 340g / 12oz marzipan
  • 1 tbsp apricot jam
  • 110g / 4oz icing sugar, sifted


  1. Set the oven to 180˚C/Fan 160˚C/gas mark 4.  Prepare a 20cm / 8-inch cake tin with a double lining of greased and floured greaseproof paper. Wrap the outside of the cake tin with a double thickness of brown paper to insulate the cake from direct heat.
  2. Sift the salt, baking powder and flours. Cut the cherries in half.
  3. Cream the butter until soft. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the lemon rind.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks. Whisk the whites until stiff.
  5. Fold one-third of the sifted flour into the mixture. Fold in the egg whites by degrees, alternating with the remaining flour and the fruit peel.
  6. Put half the mixture into the prepared tin, spreading it flat.
  7. Take just over one third of the marzipan paste. Roll it into a smooth round. Place it on the cake mixture in the tin and cover with the remaining mixture.
  8. With a palette knife make a dip in the centre of the cake to counteract any tendency to rise in the middle.
Recipe cta

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