Nigella Lawson’s traditional Easter Simnel cake tastes ‘delicious’ – recipe

Easter is traditionally an indulgent weekend that involves tucking into delicious Easter eggs and a roast lamb dinner.

If you’re looking to embrace traditional Easter recipes this year, then one sweet treat you must try is a Simnel cake.

The cake dates back to medieval times and consists of a light fruitcake with dried fruits and candied peel.

Almond paste and marzipan are also layered inside and/or on top to create a pleasant almond flavour. Traditionally, 11 marzipan balls are used to decorate the cake to symbolise the 12 apostles minus Judas Iscariot.

This Simnel cake from Nigella Lawson comes from her book, Feast, and includes apricot jam, glacé cherries and yellow marzipan.

Nigella said of the recipe: “Originally, this cake was made for Mothering Sunday, but it has for a long, long time been an essential Easter confection, the marzipan balls on top representing the apostles: eleven in total as, for understandable reasons, Judas is persona non grata.”

Fans of Nigella who have baked the food writer’s Simnel cake claim the recipe is “delicious” and is “easy-to-follow”.

One fan said: “I made my first Simnel cake with this gorgeous recipe and it’s delicious.

“I didn’t change anything, and even blow-torched the top and it’s amazing! Three generations of us enjoying this treat of a cake. Thank you, Nigella.”

Another commented: “I’ve never attempted a Simnel Cake before as my late mother traditionally made our family cake, but I decided to make this as a reminder of happy Easters spent together.

“This recipe was easy to follow and produced a lovely-looking cake. Thank you Nigella! I think my mum would be impressed.”

How to make Nigella’s Simnel cake


  • 100 grams glace cherries
  • 500 grams mixed dried fruit
  • 175 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 175 grams caster sugar
  • zest of one unwaxed lemon
  • 225 grams plain flour
  • One teaspoon baking powder
  • Half teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Quarter teaspoon ground ginger
  • 25 grams ground almonds
  • Three large eggs
  • Two tablespoons milk
  • One kilogram yellow marzipan to decorate
  • icing sugar for rolling
  • One tablespoon apricot jam (melted)
  • One egg white (optional)


1. Firstly, remove all the items from the fridge and allow them to get to room temperature. Then, preheat the oven to gas mark 3/170°C/150°C Fan/325°F.

2. Butter and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm/eight-inch springform cake tin with a double layer of brown baking paper. Then, chop up your cherries and add them to the dried fruit.

3. Next, beat together the butter and sugar until it’s soft and light before adding in the lemon zest. Bakers can use a wooden spoon to do this or a freestanding mixer. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and ground almonds into a separate bowl and stir to combine.

4. Add one of the eggs to the butter and sugar mix with two tablespoons of the flour and spice mix, then beat in the remaining eggs. Beat in the rest of the dry ingredients and the milk. Then, fold in the fruit.

5. Dust your worktop with icing sugar and then roll out roughly 400g/14oz of the marzipan. Cut out an eight-inch circle to use in the middle of the cake later on. Add half of the fruit cake mixture to the cake tin, and smooth it down with a rubber spatula. Then, lay the marzipan circle on top of it. Add the rest of the mixture on top and smooth down again. Bake the cake for half an hour and then turn the oven down to gas mark 2/150°C/130°C Fan/300°F for another 90 minutes or until the cake has risen and is firm on top. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool completely before removing from the tin.

6. Remove the cake from the tin once cool and unwrap the lining. Roll out another circle of marzipan that’s the same size and paint the top of the cake with the melted jam. Stick the marzipan circle on top.

7. Make 11 balls out of the rest of the marzipan. Beat the egg white and use it as glue to stick down the marzipan balls.

8. This step is optional. Paint the whole egg with the egg white and then blow-torch the marzipan so it scorches slightly. This will give it a slightly caramelised appearance.

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