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Easter simnel cake

21 March 2017

Gopi Chandran, Executive Head Chef at Sopwell House, shares his recipe for a classic Easter simnel cake with a marzipan topping.

Easter simnel cake
Easter simnel cake

Cooking time

1 hour


For the cake

  • 175g soft butter or margarine
  • 175g light muscovado sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 175g sultanas
  • 45g dried apricots
  • 45g dried apples
  • 90g glacé cherries, quartered, rinsed, and dried
  • 30g candied peel, roughly chopped
  • Grated Lemon zest
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice

For decorating

  • 500g almond paste
  • 2tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 egg white


  • 7 inch deep round loose bottom cake tin


Simnel cake is a traditional light fruit cake with a hidden almond filling and marzipan topping. It has been served at Easter since at least the medieval times, and is usually served with 11 marzipan balls on top to represent the 12 apostles, minus Judas. More recently simnel cakes have also been served on Mothering Sunday.

1. Preheat the oven to 165C.

2. Roll out one-third of the almond paste. Using the base of the cake as a guide, cut out an 18cm disc.

3. Grease the cake tin, then line the bottom and side with greaseproof paper.

4. Combine all the cake ingredients in a bowl. Beat well until thoroughly blended. Spoon half of the cake mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Top with the pre-cut disc of almond paste.

5. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top of the disc and smooth the surface.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden brown and firm to the touch. If the cake is browning too quickly cover the top of the cake with greaseproof paper.

7. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin, and leave to cool fully.

8. Warm the apricot jam and brush on top of the cake.

9. To decorate the cake, roll out half of the remaining almond paste and use the tin to cut out another 18cm disc. Put it on top of the jam and crimp the edges. Roll the remaining almond paste into 11 even-sized balls. Place the balls evenly around the edge of the cake, attaching them with egg white.

10. Brush the tops of the balls and the almond paste top with egg white. Place under a hot grill for 1-2 minutes until golden.

Sopwell House is a stunning Georgian manor house located in the city of St. Albans deep within the Hertfordshire countryside. Located only 20 minutes from London St. Pancras, the hotel is the idyllic getaway just outside of the hustle and bustle of the capital. The hotel is the perfect place to dine boasting two restaurants, an elegant cocktail lounge, and conservatory bar, all of which look out on 12-acres of beautiful gardens.

Visit our baking section for more delicious cake recipes, including ideas for Easter baking


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.