Martha's traditional simnel cake

I’ve added dates to this traditional recipe to keep the sponge moist and sticky. This is a cake for marzipan lovers!

  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 2½ hours
  • Total time: 2 hours 50 minutes

Serves: 10


225g light brown muscovado sugar
225g butter, softened
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp mixed spice
Grated zest of 2 lemons
4 large Waitrose British Blacktail Free Range Eggs
150g sultanas
135g currants
100g chopped dates
50g mixed peel
500g golden marzipan
2 tbsp apricot jam
1 large Waitrose British Blacktail Free Range Egg, to glaze


1. Preheat the oven to 150°C, gas mark 2. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm round tin with baking parchment.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, butter, flour, mixed spice, lemon zest and eggs until smooth. Fold in the fruit and peel, then place half the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.

3. Take ⅓ of the marzipan and roll out into a disc the same size as the cake tin. Place the disc on top of the mixture then spoon the remaining cake mix over the marzipan. Use a spoon to make sure it is pushed right into the edges of the tin.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 2½ hours until the top is a dark golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Divide the remaining marzipan into 2 and roll one half into a disc the same size as the cake. Divide the other half into 11 equal pieces and roll into balls (these traditionally represent Jesus’s disciples minus Judas). Warm the jam then sieve it and brush over the top of the cake.

6. Crimp the edges of the marzipan disc and gently press it onto the top of the cake. Brush with beaten egg, then arrange the marzipan balls evenly around in a circle. Use a sharp knife to score a criss-cross in the centre of the marzipan disc, then place the whole cake under the grill to gently toast the marzipan to a golden colour. (Keep a close eye on it because you don’t want to blacken the cake right at the end).