Simnel cake is a light fruit cake that is a sweet treat and symbolic Easter ritual in the United Kingdom. It has been known to have been eaten since medieval times. This classic Easter rich treat is topped with 11 marzipan balls to represent 11 of Christ’s 12 disciples (minus Judas, for obvious reasons).
175g soft butter or margarine
175g light brown sugar
175g self-raising flour
90g glacé cherries, chopped into small bits
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
1 tsp ground mixed spice (or use a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg)
500g marzipan (almost to a paste)
Apricot jam or marmalade
1 egg white
- Before starting, roll out 1/3 of the marzipan to a 7-inch round (use the base of a 7-inch cake tin to measure it).
- Line the cake tin.
- Mix all of the cake ingredients together.
- Pour half of the mix into the tin.
- Top with the pre-prepared round of 1/3 of marzipan.
- Pour the remaining half cake mix into the tin.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 2 hours and 15 minutes at 325°F or until firm to touch.
- When cooked, cool for 15 minutes and then remove the cake from the tin.
- When the cake is cooled completely, cut out another 7-inch round using another 1/3 of the marzipan.
- Warm the jam or marmalade and brush the top of the cake—this will help the marzipan “stick” to the cake.
- Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 even sized balls.
- Use egg white to attach the marzipan balls to the cake top.
- Brush the balls and top of the almond paste with egg white.
- Place under a hot grill for a minute or two until the balls are golden. (Careful! They burn quickly.)
Simnel cake should be stored in an air-tight container in a cool place. It keeps for five days, but we’re sure this rich and sweet cake will surely be gone long before an anticipated expiration date.