Simnel Cake

Simnel Cake Recipe

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Maureen Martin


I got this recipe in a set of recipe cards purchased from some friars at our local renaissance fair. There is no source listed on the card and I have been unable to find a similar recipe online (yes, there are other simnel cakes, but none like this one. If anyone finds this one, please let me know so I can post the source).

This is an odd cake to make, but well worth the effort. Very rich, but different as it has no leavening except for that created by beating the batter.

You can substitute raisins for the currants, but currants do have a distinctive flavor which I prefer over raisins.

★★★★★ 1 vote
40 Min
1 Hr


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4 c
all purpose flour
1 tsp
2/3 c
lemon and orange peel*, grated
2 c
1 1/2 c
unsalted butter
4 c
8 large
8 oz
almond paste / marzipan

How to Make Simnel Cake


  • 1Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  • 2Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan. Line with waxed paper, flattening out all the wrinkles as best you can. It doesn't have to look great, just flat (you can use parchment paper if you prefer, but waxed paper is cheaper).
  • 3Sift flour together with salt and set aside. Dust grated citrus peel and currants in some additional flour and set aside.
  • 4Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, beating after each addition. Next, add the flour and salt mixture in three parts, beating as you go. Finally, add the citrus peel and currants, mixing until fully incorporated.
  • 5Pour half the batter into the greased and lined pan; spread into corners, creating a level surface. Add the almond paste (marzipan) in an even layer, then add the remaining batter evenly on top of that. It doesn't have to be precise--"good enough" is good enough.
  • 6Bake at 300 degrees F. for 1 hour (probably longer--I think I cooked mine for close to an hour and a half...but my oven then ran slow). Test for doneness with toothpick or cake tester; cake will be moist like a brownie (because of the layer of paste, the pick will likely come out will have to use your best judgement regarding doneness. You know whether your oven runs hot or cool, so judge accordingly). The top should be a deep golden (or medium tan) color.

    Cool in pan until completely room temperature. To serve, you can leave in pan or turn onto a platter. Cut into 18 small pieces as cake is very rich. No need to frost (although tradition suggests a light dusting of powdered sugar, sometimes in the shape of a cross if the cake is made in individual serving sizes).
    The recipe card did not indicate a ratio of lemon peel to orange peel. I think I used a 3:3 ratio of lemons to oranges (as in, the peel of three lemons and the peel of three oranges, but because lemons are smaller than oranges, you get less peel, so I think it works out more like 2:3 lemon peel to orange peel by volume).

    You can use dried, of course, but I have not tried it (if you do, remember to reduce by half or 2/3 the, I think that means you would use 3 tablespoons of dried peel instead of 2/3 cup of fresh...maybe) (fyi, math was not my strongest subject! Take my advice at your own risk!).

Printable Recipe Card

About Simnel Cake

Course/Dish: Cakes
Main Ingredient: Flour
Regional Style: English
Dietary Needs: Vegetarian, Soy Free
Other Tag: Heirloom

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