A Traditional Easter Dessert: The Simnel Cake

Simnel cake is a cherished tradition during the Easter season, dating back centuries in British culture. This rich fruitcake, adorned with marzipan, carries with it a wealth of history and symbolism. Here’s a quick etiquette guide for both preparing and enjoying this traditional Easter treat:

Respect the Tradition:

Simnel cake has a long history and holds significant symbolism, representing the 12 apostles and often topped with 11 marzipan balls representing all but Judas. When preparing or enjoying Simnel cake, honor the tradition and the meaning behind it.

Follow the Recipe:

While there are variations of Simnel cake recipes, it’s essential to stick to the traditional ingredients and methods to preserve its authenticity. A classic recipe includes dried fruits, spices, flour, eggs, butter, sugar, and of course, marzipan.

Share with Care:

Simnel cake is meant to be shared with loved ones during Easter festivities. If you’re preparing a Simnel cake, consider making an extra one to gift to friends or family members. Sharing this traditional treat spreads joy and strengthens bonds during the holiday season.

Offer a Slice:

If you’re lucky enough to be offered a slice of Simnel cake by a friend or family member, accept it graciously and with appreciation. Enjoying this delicacy together fosters a sense of camaraderie and connection.

Serve with Grace:

When serving Simnel cake, do so with care and attention to detail. Traditionally, it’s presented as a centerpiece during Easter gatherings, symbolizing abundance and celebration. Take the time to adorn it with marzipan balls and present it with pride.

Recipe for Simnel Cake:


  • 250g mixed dried fruits (such as currants, sultanas, and raisins)
  • 50g chopped mixed peel
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 250g butter, softened
  • 250g light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 500g marzipan
  • Apricot jam for glazing


  • Preheat your oven to 150°C (300°F) and grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the dried fruits, mixed peel, and lemon zest.
  • In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a tablespoon of flour with each egg to prevent curdling.
  • Fold in the remaining flour and mixed spice until well combined.
  • Stir in the dried fruit mixture until evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  • Divide the marzipan in half and roll out one half to fit the base of the cake tin.
  • Spoon half of the cake batter into the tin and smooth the top.
  • Place the rolled-out marzipan on top of the cake batter.
  • Spoon the remaining cake batter on top of the marzipan layer and smooth the surface.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Once cool, roll out the remaining marzipan and use it to decorate the top of the cake.
  • Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam and place 11 marzipan balls around the edge.
  • If desired, place the cake under a hot grill for a minute or two to lightly toast the marzipan.

Enjoy your homemade Simnel cake with family and friends during your Easter celebrations!

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