Simnel Cake… the recipe!

Here’s a lovely recipe for your simnel cake for Mothering Sunday, you may have one from your own favourite cookery book, or one handed down from your grandmother, but here’s the one I use!

Apparently the word simnel comes from something which means fine bread made with the best flour… apparently!


  • 6 oz butter
  • 6 oz soft brown sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 9 oz self-raising flour (Be-Ro is best!)
  • pinch of salt
  • generous teaspoon of mixed spice (I add it to the flour so it is sifted into the cake)
  • 2 tbsps milk
  • 2 tsps golden syrup (Tate and Lyle of course – I also would put a little more in to give a softer yummy texture, but it’s up to you!)
  • 1 lb currants – they really do have the finest flavour of all dried fruit
  • 2 oz raisins
  •  4 oz sultanas (you actually could use all sultanas, or mixed fruit, or whatever you have instead of three different lots of fruit… up to you ad your taste, but currants are pretty tasty!)
  • 1 oz glacé cherries ( I don’t usually add these, just extra sultanas)
  • 4 oz mixed peel (lots of people don’t like it, so add other fruit instead if you think your friends and family would be picking it out and leaving it on the edge of the plate!)
  • 1 lb (at least) marzipan
  • a little apricot jam
  • beaten egg to glaze (I never bother with it, just stick the cake under the grill without))
  • Heat oven to 180ºC, 350ºF, Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 20.5 cm (8 inch) round cake tin.



  1. Beat the butter and sugar together until really light and fluffy
  2. add the eggs one by one with a little sifted flour in between
  3. add the syrup and the milk with a little more flour, mixing it really well
  4. fold in the rest of the sieved flour
  5. put half the mixture in the tin
  6. you should roll out half the marzipan into a circle  to fit the tin then put it snugly on top of the mixture, put the rest of the cake mixture in (Not the rest of the marzipan – you need that when the cake is cooked! You may need to roll it out on grease proof paper dusted with icing sugar so it doesn’t stick to your rolling-pin)
  7. Cook the cake for an hour, then lower the temperature to 1°gas, 140°C, 275°F and continue to cook the cake for another 2 ¼h (you may need to check that’s it’s not drying out, my oven seems to cook a little hot so I don’t need as long – or the reverse maybe true and your oven cooks slowly)
  8. When the cake has cooled, brush the top with the apricot jam (sieved if it has bits of apricot in it)
  9. divide the rest of the marzipan in two, roll out half in  a circle and put on top of the cake, roll the other half into eleven balls and place on top
  10. If you’re using an egg, brush the top of the cake and the top of the balls with it then flash under the grill to brown – DO NOT WALK AWAY AT THIS POINT, FLAMES AND BURNING WILL ENSUE!!!

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