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Simnel Cake Recipe

This gluten free Simnel cake looks so impressive but is actually surprisingly easy to make. The perfect Easter centrepiece!

A gluten free sponge simnel cake decorated with marzipan and marzipan balls, on a vintage cake stand.

Suitable for: gluten free

For the cake

Gluten free Easter Simnel cake with marzipan topping and balls, on a vintage glass cake stand

2 x Honeybuns Sponge Cake Mixes

4 free-range eggs

340g / 12oz butter, melted

350g / 12oz mixed raisins/ sultanas/ currants (whatever’s about!)

55g / 2oz mixed peel

Zest of ½ lemon

½ tsp mixed spice

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 egg, beaten, for glazing

For the marzipan

180g / 6oz icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

180g / 6oz golden caster sugar

350g / 12oz ground almonds

2 eggs, beaten

Few drops of almond extract


First, make the marzipan. This can be made up to two days in advance and stored in the fridge. You’ll probably find that the recipe makes more than you need, however any spare can be used up in cookies, crumble toppings or as chocolate-coated marzipan balls.

Sift the icing sugar and caster sugar into large glass bowl, then stir in the beaten eggs. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and fluffy. Remove the bowl from the heat and sit in a roasting tin filled with 5cm of cold water. Whisk in the almond extract and continue whisking until the mixture is cool.

Once cooled, stir in the ground almonds and knead everything together to form a firm paste. Then split the paste into 1 small ball and 2 larger. The 2 larger will be the rounds and the small will be for decoration. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least an hour.

When ready to make the cake, lightly dust a clean surface with icing sugar and roll out the two larger balls to form two rounds, each the size of your cake tin. Set to one side.

For the cake, you will need a 9 inch loose bottomed cake tin - lightly greased and lined with baking parchment - and your oven preheated to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. 

Crack the eggs into a bowl and add dry mixes, spices and lemon zest, before pouring over the melted butter. Mix well using an electric hand whisk, before adding the dried fruit and mixed peel. Mix until well combined.

Spoon half of the cake mix into the prepared tin, and smooth. Place one of the large marzipan rounds on top of this mix, then add the remaining cake batter and level with a spatula.

Pop the cake into the oven and bake for approximately 1 hour, until a skewer comes out clean. You may need to cover the cake with foil midway through cooking. Cool on a wire rack and, once cooled, brush warm apricot jam over the top and put the other marzipan round on top. Then decorate with remaining marzipan as you wish.

For the final touch, lightly brush with an egg glaze and place under a hot grill for 2 minutes until just starts to turn golden. Watch it! It won’t take long.

Gluten free Simnel cake with a layer of homemade marzipan and twelve marzipan balls, and stands on a vintage glass cake stand



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