Simnel Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A plethora of flavors abound in this traditional Easter cake. The cake, brimming with raisins, currants, spices, and overtones of orange liqueur, is layered with apricot glaze and delicious marzipan. Traditional Simnel cake is topped with 11 marzipan balls, meant to represent the eleven favored apostles, excluding Judas. My version of Simnel includes Flour Buttercream and a few colorful Jordan Almonds. If you prefer to keep to a traditional Simnel, simply layer the cake layers with the marzipan and top with the marzipan balls.
Recipe type: Dessert | Butter Cake | Marzipan
Serves: 8 to 10
  • 2 cups currants
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅓ cup blanched almonds, finely ground
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest (about 1 orange)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
Apricot Glaze:
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup apricot jam
Flour Buttercream:
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1⅓ cups milk (preferably whole milk)
  • 1⅓ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Jordan Almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 9 inch round layer cake pans; lightly grease the pans with shortening and dust with flour. Tip: to make baked cake easier to remove from pan, lightly grease the pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust the pan with flour.
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine currants, raisins, and orange liqueur; stir to thoroughly mix the fruit and liqueur. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and ground almonds; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, orange zest, lemon zest, and sugar until light and fluffy. Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter, orange zest, and lemon zest in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter and zests about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed. The batter may be curdled but this will be corrected when the flour is added.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add about half of the flour mixture, mix just until blended, and then add the remaining half, mix just until blended.
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the raisin and currant mixture into the batter.
  7. Bake: Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pans on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then remove cake from the pans and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
  1. Prepare Marzipan. Divide the marzipan into thirds. On a pastry board sprinkled with a small amount of confectioners’ sugar (to keep from sticking) roll two of the portions into 8 inch circles.
  2. Use remaining marzipan to form 11 balls about 1 inch in diameter. Change the oven temperature to broil. Place marzipan balls on a baking sheet and place in the oven to brown under the broiler for 30 to 60 seconds or until the marzipan is golden brown, watching carefully to prevent the marzipan from burning. Remove from oven and place baking sheet on a wire cooling rack to cool. Or, Lightly toast the marzipan balls with a kitchen torch. Hold a small kitchen torch 3 to 4 inches from the marzipan and wave it back and forth until the marzipan is lightly browned all over. Tightly wrap and refrigerate any remaining marzipan for another project.
Apricot Glaze:
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, lemon juice, and apricot jam. Heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Flour Buttercream:
  1. In a medium heavy saucepan, add the flour, and using a wire whisk, slowly whisk in the milk, whisking until the sauce is smooth and free of lumps. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Boil and whisk for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool to room temperature, or a tepid temperature. While cooling, whisk frequently to keep the sauce smooth. Tip: If the sauce is too warm when added to the creamed butter mixture it will melt the butter. If the sauce is too cold it will not blend smoothly.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the butter and sugar when the sauce is almost cooled to the right temperature, in a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually add the cooled sauce, adding 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, beating about 20 seconds between each addition. Add the vanilla and continue to beat for another 1 to 2 minutes to thoroughly blend and the frosting in somewhat fluffy. The frosting should be used immediately, or refrigerate until needed.
  1. Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Using a pastry brush, brush about ½ of the still warm apricot glaze over the cake. Place one of the marzipan circles on top of the apricot glaze. Place the second cake layer on top, brush with remaining glaze, and cover with the second marzipan circle.
  2. Frost sized and top of cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Arrange the marzipan balls around the top edge of the cake, and decorate with Jordan almonds.
Recipe Notes
Pan: Two 9" Round Layers Oven Temp: 350o Storage: Cover, cool place or refrigerate

Help: Cake Hints and Tips, Blanching Almonds

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