today is May 24, 2022

Learn how to make this light yet moist fruit cake layered and decorated with homemade marzipan to celebrate Easter. A step-by-step tutorial is included.

Easy Homemade Simnel Cake (English Easter Cake)

I have never tried simnel cake before and I was so intrigued when I saw Nigella Lawson’s recipe for simnel cake and decided that I want to give it a try and I’m so glad I did. Our family loves this cake. It’s almost like the traditional fruit cake, but not so dense. It’s light, super aromatic with spices, and just the right amount of sweetness. We are a fan of marzipan and so this cake definitely is a keeper for us.

What is simnel cake?

Simnel cake is a lighter version of fruitcake eaten in England and other parts of Europe. The cake is moist but not as dense compared to the traditional Christmas fruit cake. The cake is studded with a variety of dried fruit and candied peels, layered with marzipan in the middle and the top of the cake and then decorated with 11 marzipan balls, representing the 11 apostles (minus Judas). Simnel cake used to be made for Mothering Sunday back in the days and now has become part of the Easter celebration.

What to expect from this cake

Taste: The cake is not overly sweet despite the marzipan and the dried fruit scattered inside the cake Texture: Moist, but lighter in texture compared to traditional fruit cake Difficulty level: Easy. The cake is made with a pretty straightforward method. No fancy or special equipment is needed. I mix everything manually by hand. I feel like it’s an easy yet fun cake to make Easy Homemade Simnel Cake (English Easter Cake)

How to make simnel cake at home

1. Preheat oven to 300 F / 150 C (or 280 F/ 138C convection). Line the bottom and the sides of a 7-inch round pan with parchment paper. You can also use a springform pan. I just use a regular round pan 2. If you decide to make your own marzipan, simply mix all the ingredients for marzipan and add water as needed to form a moist dough but not sticky to touch 3. Combine all the dry ingredients and whisk to combine and set aside 4. Cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon or hard sturdy spatula. You don’t need a mixer to do this unless you want to. This is meant to be a dense, moist, and rich cake, so we don’t need a whole lot of air here. Mix until they are pale and creamy. Add lemon zest

5. Add half of the eggs and mix until combined and then add the rest of the eggs and then mix until combined. Add milk and stir to combine. 6. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until you don’t see any more pockets of flour 7. Fold in the dried fruit and cherries

8. Dust your work surface with some icing sugar, get about 300 grams of marzipan and roll it out into a 7 inches circle

9. Spoon half of the cake batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the top with rubber spatula. Make sure the cake is evenly spread so there won’t be any “empty” spots 10. Gently lay one marzipan layer on top of the cake batter 11. Gently spoon the rest of the cake batter on top of the marzipan, smooth it out with a rubber spatula. Keep the rest of the marzipan, tightly wrapped in a cling wrap for later 12. Bake in a preheated oven, middle rack for about 1 1/2 hours or until the cake has risen and dry to touch on top. It should spring back slightly when you touch. A toothpick inserted will come out with some sticky crumbs is normal as long as it’s no longer wet. Let the cake cool down completely inside the pan, on top of a cooling rack. Don’t unmold the cake until it has cooled down completely 13. Dust your work surface with some icing sugar and roll out another 300 grams of marzipan into a 7-inch circle. Brush the top of the cake with some melted apricot jam 14. Carefully place the marzipan on top of the cake. I kinda make the edge of the circle a bit “wavy” (just because..). You don’t have to 15. Make 11 apostle balls with the marzipan. I made the ball about 1-inch in diameter. You may have some leftover marzipan which you can keep in the fridge, tightly wrapped for about 1 month or in the freezer for about 3 months 16. Brush the top of the cake (which is covered by marzipan) with egg white 17. Attach the 11 marzipan balls on the perimeter of the cake. 18. Brush the marzipan balls with some egg whites 19. If you have a hand blow-torch, you can blow-torch the apostle balls and the surface of the marzipan slightly to give it a bit of golden-ish burnt look 20. If you have a hand blow-torch, you can blow-torch the apostle balls and the surface of the marzipan slightly to give it a bit of golden-ish burnt look

Easy Homemade Simnel Cake (English Easter Cake)

Can I make simnel cake in advance?

Yes, it can last for about one week when you wrap it well in a cling wrap and I suggest decorating with marzipan the day before or on the day you plan to serve the cake. If you want to make it far in advance, I suggest freezing the cake after wrapping. They can be kept in the freezer for about one month. You can keep the fully decorated simnel cake in an air-tight container for about one week.

Did you make this Easy Easter Simnel Cake recipe?

I love it when you guys snap a photo and tag to show me what you’ve made 🙂 Simply tag me @WhatToCookToday #WhatToCookToday on Instagram and I’ll be sure to stop by and take a peek for real! Easy Homemade Simnel Cake (English Easter Cake) The recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s

Easy Homemade Simnel Cake (English Easter Cake)

Easy Homemade Simnel Cake (English Easter Cake)

Prep Time 30 mins

Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins

Total Time 2 hrs

Servings 11 slices (7 inch round pan)

Ingredients  

For the cake:

  • 135 gr unsalted butter
  • 135 gr caster sugar
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 780 gr marzipan

Wet ingredients:

  • 115 gr eggs (room temperature) about 2 1/2 eggs
  • 25 gr milk (room temperature)

Dried fruit:

  • 350 gr mixed dried fruit finely chopped
  • 75 gr candied cherries (glace cherries) finely chopped

For decoration:

  • 1 Tbsp apricot jam (melted)
  • 1 egg white beaten

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 300 F / 150 C (or 280 F/ 138C convection). Line the bottom and the sides of a 7-inch round pan with parchment paper. You can also use a springform pan. I just use regular round pan

Prepare marzipan (if decide to make it yourself):

  • You will have some leftovers. Put all ingredients for marzipan in a large mixing bowl. Combine and mix into a mass. If it's very sticky, add a bit more almond flour. If it's too dry, add a bit of water, teaspoon by teaspoon until you get a moist but not sticky dough

  • Transfer to a work surface and knead a few times. Wrap it tightly with a cling wrap. It can be made ahead and kept in the fridge. Simply let it comes to a room temperature and knead a few time to soften it a bit

Prepare the cake batter:

  • Combine all the dry ingredients and whisk to combine and set aside

  • Cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon. You don't need a mixer to do this unless you want to. This is meant to be a dense, moist, and rich cake, so we don't need a whole lot of air here. Mix until they are pale and creamy. Add lemon zest

  • Add half of the eggs and mix until combined and then add the rest of the eggs and then mix until combined. Add milk and stir to combine. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until you don't see any more pockets of flour. Fold in the dried fruit and cherries

  • Dust your work surface with some icing sugar, get about 300 grams of marzipan and roll it out into a 7 inches circle

  • Spoon half of the cake batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the top with rubber spatula. Make sure the cake is evenly spread so there won't be any "empty" spots. Gently lay one marzipan layer on top of the cake batter. Gently spoon the rest of the cake batter on top of the marzipan, smooth it out with a rubber spatula. Keep the rest of the marzipan, tightly wrapped in a cling wrap for later

Baking:

  • Bake in a preheated oven, middle rack for about 1 1/2 hours or until the cake has risen and dry to touch on top. It should spring back slightly when you touch. A toothpick inserted will come out with some sticky crumbs is normal as long as it's no longer wet

Cool down:

  • Let the cake cool down completely inside the pan, on top of a cooling rack. Don't unmold the cake until it has cooled down completely

  • If you use springform pan, simply spring the pan open, and remove the parchment paper on the side. If you use a regular round pan, put a cutting board on top of the cake and then invert to unmold the cake, remove the parchment paper on the side and put the cake on a baking sheet

Assembling the cake:

  • Dust your work surface with some icing sugar and roll out another 300 grams of marzipan into a 7-inch circle

  • Brush the top of the cake with some melted apricot jam. Carefully place the marzipan on top of the cake. I kinda make the edge of the circle a bit "wavy" (just because..). You don't have to

  • Make 11 apostle balls with the marzipan. I made the ball about 1-inch in diameter. You may have some leftover marzipan which you can keep in the fridge, tightly wrapped for about 1 month or in the freezer for about 3 months

  • Brush the top of the cake (which is covered by marzipan) with egg white. Attach the 11 marzipan balls on the perimeter of the cake. Brush the marzipan balls with some egg whites. If you have a hand blow-torch, you can blow-torch the apostle balls and the surface of the marzipan slightly to give it a bit of golden-ish burnt look

  • If you don't have a hand blow-torch, put the cake inside the oven and use the broiler function (or top heat) to let it caramelize the top until golden brown. Keep a close watch and don't walk away or you may end up burning the marzipan on top of the cake

Storage:

  • This cake can be kept in an air-tight container for up to a week. If it's really humid where you are, you want to keep it in the fridge

Nutrition

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 835 kcal Carbohydrates: 113 g Protein: 16 g Fat: 39 g Saturated Fat: 8 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 4 g Monounsaturated Fat: 14 g Trans Fat: 1 g Cholesterol: 60 mg Sodium: 74 mg Potassium: 412 mg Fiber: 8 g Sugar: 83 g Vitamin A: 351 IU Vitamin C: 1 mg Calcium: 163 mg Iron: 4 mg

Marvellina

Marvellina is a food blogger, recipe developer, photographer, and publisher at What To Cook Today. A food blog that brings you tried and true Asian recipes.