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Easter Bonus Recipe: Helen's Simnel Cake Recipe (Fruit Cake)

Easter Bonus Recipe: Helen's Simnel Cake Recipe (Fruit Cake)

Image by Steven Brown.

This cake was originally made on the middle Sunday of Lent, when the 40 day fasting would be relaxed.

More recently in history, it would be made by young girls in service to take home for their Mothers on their day off for Mothering Sunday.

'Simnel' derived from latin – means fine and generally a Simnel cake is a light fruit cake, but I concur with “Delia” that a fruit cake should be “rich” more importantly than “light”!!

Traditionally decorated with marzipan balls to represent Jesus and his Disciples minus Judas,  being not particularly religious I go for sugar glazed fresh flowers and baked marzipan leaves.

Anyone at the Park over Easter is welcome to ask for a taste…….



225g / 8oz butter

225g/8oz light muscavado sugar

350g/ 12oz Self Raising Flour

4 eggs beaten

1 Tablespoon mixed spice

750g mixed dried fruit

4oz glace cherries

4oz mixed chopped nuts

450g/1lb almond paste


For flower decoration:

Glaze fresh flowers- primroses/violets/mimosa/narcissi 

Dip into beaten egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar and leave to dry for several hours or overnight.

To make the marzipan leaves – cut out, brush with egg yolk and grill gently till required colour


To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 150C/300F/ Gas 2

Grease and line a deep 23cm/9” round baking tin

Place butter, sugar, eggs, flour and spice in a bowl and beat well for about 3mins or untll light and fluffy.  

Stir in fruit and nuts.

Chop at least half of the marzipan into sugar lump sized cubes.

Spoon a third of the cake mixture into the tin and sprinkle marzipan cubes over that. At this point you may want to cube more marzipan for the next layer.

Add another third of mixture and more marzipan cubes.

Top with the final third of cake mixture and smooth over.

Bake for about 135/150 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

If the top of the cake appears to be over baking, cover with greaseproof paper to protect.

Leave to cool overnight in the tin before removing to decorate.

Simnel Cake Ready For Decoration

To Decorate:

With any remaining marzipan , roll out to make some leaves an then roll remainder into thin ropes.  Twist together and attach to top edge of cake with apricot jam . Brush with egg yolk and put under grill until lightly golden.

Allow to cool again before finishing decoration.

This will produce a fairly sticky moist cake perfect with Wensleydale or white Stilton cheese . For those who don’t particularly like marzipan, the process of cooking within the cake just adds sweetness  and is not obviously there.

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