Cakes, Celebration Dishes, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegan Treats

Simnel Cake

Vegan and Gluten-Free Deliciousness….

According to Wikipedia, Simnel Cake is a fruit cake with two layers of marzipan, one in the middle and one on top.  It’s traditionally made at Easter time.  No-one seems to be quite sure what ‘simnel’ means.  Simnel cakes have been known since medieval times.  Different regions had their own version of Simnel Cake, and here’s a vegan and gluten-free one to add to the list.

I’ve flavoured mine with orange, cinnamon and ginger, and I’ve added grated carrot to help keep it moist and fragrant.

I bought ready-made, vegan, white marzipan, but feel free to make your own almond paste.

I hope you enjoy.



 12-16 slices



  • 300 gms. gluten-free flour suitable for cakes.  (I used 200gms. white GF. self-raising flour, and 100gms. coconut flour.  If you prefer, please use your own favourite blend of gluten-free flour that’s good for baking!).
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon powder.
  • I tsp. ginger powder.
  • 5-6 tsps. baking powder (baking soda) : If using self-raising flour add only 5 tsps. baking powder.  Otherwise add 6 tsps.


  • 175 gms. vegan spread : suitable for baking.
  • 175 gms. sugar: I used light raw muscovado.
  • 150 ml. aquafaba (chickpea juice)
  • 250 gms. carrots: peeled, washed, trimmed and grated fairly finely.
  • 350 gms. dried mixed fruit: e.g. sultanas, rasins, currants.
  • Zest and juice of 1 large organic orange (I used a lovely blood orange).
  • 100 – 130 ml. non-dairy milk.  (I used almond milk).
  • 500 gms. marzipan.
  • 2 tbs. jam ( e.g. apricot jam): mixed with 1 tbs. water.
  • Whole almonds for decoration.  (Optional).


  • Take 50gms. of the flour, and mix with the dried fruit to coat the fruit.  Cook’s Note: This helps stop the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the cake during baking.
  • Thoroughly combine the rest of the dry ingredients together and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, place the unbeaten aquafaba, the vegan spread, and the sugar.
  • Using an electric whisk, whisk them together until smooth, light and creamy.  This should take about 3 mins.
  • Add grated carrot to the blended mix, and stir in with a wooden spoon, to combine.
  • Add the orange zest and orange juice.  Stir to combine.
  • Stir in 100 ml. non-dairy milk.
  • Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the cake mix.  Combine thoroughly.
  • Finally add the flour-coated dried fruit.
  • Add a little more milk (20-30ml) if necessary.
  • The mix should be neither too wet nor too dry: (see pics.).

Construct the cake ready for baking:

  • Take a round cake tin : approx. 21cm. diameter X 7 cm deep. (I used a spring-form tin).
  • Divide the marzipan into 3 pieces:  2 x 200gms. plus 1 x 100gms.
  • Roll out one piece 200gms. into a circle the same diameter as your cake tin.  Use the cake tin as a template to cut exactly the right size.
  • Repeat with the second 200 gm. piece of marzipan and then set aside for decoration.
  • Lightly grease the interior of the cake tin and then coat lightly with 1 tbs. flour.  Place the flour in the greased tin and then shake until the flour is evenly distributed around the tin.
  • Place half the cake mixture in the tin, and smooth out evenly to the sides, using the flat side of a butter knife.
  • Place the first circle of marzipan over the cake mix.
  • Add the rest of the cake mixture, and again smooth evenly to the edge of the tin.  Try to avoid compacting the mix.
  • Place the cake tin on a baking sheet.
  • Cut out a large piece of grease=proof paper, enough to shroud the cake without touching the top of the cake.
  • Cut a hole approx. 2 cm. square in the centre of the grease-proof paper. (See pics.).
  • Place the baking sheet with the cake in a pre-heated oven Gas Mk 4 / 180C.
  • Bake for 45 mins.
  • Remove the grease-proof paper and bake the cake uncovered for a further 15 mins.
  • Test the cake by plunging a thin skewer vertically into the centre of the cake.  The skewer will come out clean when the cake is done.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely before removing the cake from the tin.
  • Remove the cake from the tin, and place on a cooling rack.

Decorate the cake:

  • Take the final 100gms. marzipan and get creative with you decorations.
  • Cook’s note: traditionally, a Simnel Cake was decorated with 12 balls of marzipan representing the 12 apostles. 
  • I made 8 flowers plus a large one for the middle, using pastry cutters. I used two different sizes to make double layered flowers.
  • When the cake is completely cool, brush the cake top surface with the prepared jam/water mix.
  • Lay the second circle of marzipan over the cake, so it covers the edges of the cake.  Decorate the edges… I made a wavy edge by gently pressing the curves between two fingers.
  • Brushing the underside of your decorations lightly with jam/water mix, arrange them on the marzipan circle.
  • Arrange almonds (also brushed with jam), if using. Press them gently into the marzipan.
  • Place the cake back on the baking sheet.
  • Toast the surface of the marzipan under the grill : making sure the marzipan is not too close to the heat.  Keep a very watchful eye to avoid burning, and turn the cake as necessary until evenly toasted. (See pics.).

Allow the toasted marzipan to cool before serving.






Happy Easter




13 thoughts on “Simnel Cake”

    1. Thank you! Let me know how it goes?? PS – you can use all-purpose wheat flour if you prefer (white probably)…I did it gluten-free because, gluten-free diets miss out on cakes sometimes ! :

      Liked by 1 person

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