Modern Simnel Cake

Modern Simnel Cake
Simnel Cakes go way back, all the way to medival times in fact. They were actually made for Mother’s Day, but nowadays they are considered an Easter cake. The marzipan balls on top represent the apostles (minus Judas) and there are supposed to be 11 of them. I put 12 on this Modern Simnel Cake, partly because of my lack of religious knowledge and partly because I like things to be even! I wanted to make the Simnel cake a bit more up to date, so this Modern Simnel Cake is made in two layers, with a filling of almond buttercream and the sponge is a little lighter with less fruit.

Jump straight to the recipe!

Step by step…

To make the sponge I mixed together butter and light brown sugar until fluffy, then I stirred in the lemon zest.

I whisked in eggs, milk, plain flour, baking powder and mixed spice. Then I folded in mixed fruit and some glace cherries.

I divided the mixture between the tins and baked them for 45 minutes.

To make the almond buttercream I whisked the butter and icing sugar together, then I added almond extract and whisked until smooth.

I levelled off the sponges and piped some almond buttercream over the bottom sponge.

Then I added the second sponge and spread a little apricot jam in the centre. I covered it with a circle of marzipan and I also rolled 12 marzipan balls.

Using a kitchen blowtorch, I browed the marzipan balls and the marzipan circle. Then I piped almond buttercream around the edge of the cake and added the marzipan balls on top.

Modern Simnel Cake

I loved the final effect of the Modern Simnel Cake, a gorgeous golden delight! My boyfriend’s eyes lit up with excitement when he saw it as he loves marzipan. He quickly ate up the first slice and was full of compliments for the flavour. Any marzipan lovers in your life will adore this cake!

Modern Simnel Cake

The sponge of the Modern Simnel Cake was lovely and light with just enough fruit in my opinion, and the sweet almond buttercream was the perfect accompaniment. It’s great for a hungry group of family and friends at Easter!

Modern Simnel Cake

Tips for making the Modern Simnel Cake:

  • Make sure to brown the marzipan before you add the buttercream on top of the cake, as the heat from the blow torch will cause the buttercream to melt.
  • If you don’t have a kitchen blow torch you can brown the marzipan under the grill. Place the marzipan on some baking paper or foil and keep a very close eye on it as it can burn very easily.
  • I used a mixed of sultanas, currants and mixed peel.
  • You don’t have to add the glace cherries if you’re not a fan.
  • You can switch out the lemon zest for orange zest instead if you prefer, or omit the citrus zest entirely.

Recommended equipment & ingredients*

8″ cake tins Mixing bowls Cooling rack
Kitchen scales Electric hand mixer Round cake tin liners
Piping bags Wilton 8B Piping nozzle Zester
Almond extract Mixed spice Glace cherries
Kitchen blowtorch Rolling pin Silicone mat

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More Simnel recipes…

Easter Simnel Cupcakes
Simnel Spiced Easter Cheesecake (No Bake) Easter Simnel Cupcakes

Modern Simnel Cake
5 from 8 votes

Modern Simnel Cake

Light fruit cake, almond buttercream and marzipan topping

Course Dessert
Cuisine British
Keyword Cake
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12
Author thebakingexplorer


For the sponge

  • 350 g Butter or baking spread
  • 325 g Light brown sugar
  • 1 Lemon zest only
  • 4 Eggs large
  • 150 ml Milk
  • 350 g Plain flour
  • 3 tsp Baking powder
  • 2 tsp Mixed spice
  • 250 g Dried fruit
  • 125 g Glace cherries

For the buttercream

  • 400 g Icing sugar
  • 200 g Butter or baking spread
  • 1 1/2 tsp Almond extract

For decoration

  • 285 g Golden marzipan
  • 1 tbsp Apricot jam


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 150C Fan/170C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and grease and line two 8" cake tins

  2. Make the sponge by mixing the butter and light brown sugar in a large bowl with a spoon until fluffy, or mix using an electric mixer

  3. Add the eggs, lemon zest and milk, and whisk until fully incorporated

  4. Add the plain flour, baking powder and mixed spice, and whisk in until you can't see any flour anymore

  5. Toss the fruit and cherries in a little flour, then gently stir them into the batter

  6. Divide the mixture between the cake tins, use scales for accuracy

  7. Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave them to fully cool either in the tins or remove from the tin and place on cooling racks

  8. To make the buttercream mix the butter and icing sugar together. Once it starts to come together add the almond extract and mix until smooth. I use my electric hand whisk to do this but you can also do it by hand

  9. If the cakes have domed on top, level them off with a cake leveller or a serrated knife

  10. Put one of the sponges on your serving plate and pipe or spread buttercream all over the sponge, I used a Wilton 8B nozzle to pipe it on

  11. Roll up 12 marzipan balls weighing 15g each, then roll the rest of the marzipan out using icing sugar so it doesn't stick to your surface. Use a small plate to cut out a disc shape that's smaller than the cake

  12. Add the final sponge layer and brush the apricot jam over the top to help the marzipan stick
  13. Place the marzipan disc on top of the cake

  14. Use a cook's blowtorch to scorch the marzipan in the centre and the top of each marzipan ball

  15. Pipe more buttercream around the edge of the cake, then add the marzipan balls on top

  16. Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool place and eat within 3 days

Recipe Notes

Mixed spice is a British spice blend containing Cinnamon, Coriander Seed, Nutmeg, Clove, Pimento, Ginger. If you can't get hold of it, use a Pumpkin Spice mix instead

If you like this, check out more of my Cake recipes!

Or you might like my Easter recipes!

Modern Simnel Cake

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8 comments / Add your comment below

    1. Hi, yes you could do this as one cake and slice into two. I can't confirm exactly how long it would take to cook as it depends on your oven, but keep the temperature on 150C and check on it after 45 mins, use a skewer to see if it's done in the middle and give it longer if not. Hope it goes well!

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