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How to make a Simnel Cake

One of the joys of getting together with family and friends is sharing food. It’s part of daily life and central to every party, wedding, birthday, festival, and one of the reasons we all enjoy visiting other  countries. So many recipes are bound up with history and religious festivals. With Easter just past, I thought I would share a traditional cake recipe which goes back to Mediaeval times – Simnel Cake, which is a fruit cake with a layer of marzipan or almond paste in the middle and another layer on top. Traditionally, eleven lightly toasted marzipan balls, representing the twelve apostles minus Judas, decorate the cake and the centre is either left plain or finished with sugar-paste flowers or other springtime decorations.

The video below is presented by Paul Hollywood a famous UK baker of the BBC’s Great British Bake Off fame. I like it because he gives some really good pointers for new cooks. His recipe uses mini chocolate Easter eggs for decoration instead of marzipan balls.
Here is the recipe which has been taken from the Waitrose website

Paul Hollywood’s Easter Simnel cake

Preparation time:20 minutes
Cooking time:2 hours
Total time:2 hours 20 minutes
Serves: 6-8


300g marzipan
175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 Waitrose British Blacktail Eggs
175g essential Waitrose plain flour
2tsp Ground cinnamon
Finely Grated zest of 1 orange
Finely Grated zest of 1 lemon
175g essential Waitrose sultanas
75g essential Waitrose currants
75g Homebaking glace cherries, quartered
1-2 tbsp Apricot jam
100g box Waitrose cream truffle mini eggs


  1. Preheat the oven to 150C, gas mark 2. Line the base and sides of a 15cm round, deep loose bottom cake tin with baking parchment. Roll out half the marzipan to 5mm thick and cut a circle that will just fit inside the tin. Set aside.
  2. Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, cinnamon, orange and lemon zest together in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric hand held whisk, beat until all the ingredients are thoroughly blended. Stir in the sultanas, currants and glace cherries.
  3. Put half the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Lay the marzipan circle over the mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.
  4. Bake for about 2 – 2 ¼ hours, until the cake is firm to the touch and well risen. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. When the cake is cool, gently warm the apricot jam with a little water. Trim the top of the cake so the surface is level. Brush with the apricot jam. Roll out the remaining marzipan and cut a circle to fit the top of the cake. Press firmly. Dip 11 of the eggs in a little jam and place evenly around the edge of the cake.

Please note that this recipe is © Copyright Paul Hollywood

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