I love Easter. A great time for the family to come together. Central to our celebrations is Simnel Cake. It is so popular with my boys that Isaac normally requests this for his birthday cake. Simnel is simply a fruit cake with a layer of marzipan in the centre. It it topped with more marzipan and traditionally 11 balls of marzipan – said to represent 11 of Jesus’s disciples, leaving off Judas. I generally make the fruit cake a couple of weeks before Easter and feed it with a little brandy before covering with marzipan ready for the big day.

Gluten Free & Vegan Simnel Cake


Makes 1 x 8inch cake / Serves 12

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time:

What’s Good About It?

Switching to xylitol or erythritol helps to lower the overall sugar content. If you want a slightly richer cake try using coconut sugar. You can make this fruit cake 2-3 weeks ahead of time and feed every week with a little brandy for a truly indulgent, moist cake.

  1. Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2.
  2. Roll out a third of the marzipan and use the base of a deep 20cm cake tin as a template to cut out a circle.
  3. Wrap the remaining marzipan in cling and set aside for later.
  4. Grease and line the cake tin with a double layer of parchment.
  5. In a food processor beat the dairy free spread and xylitol together until creamy. Add the rest of the ingredients except the fruit and beat well.
  6. Mix in the soaked dried fruit.
  7. Scrape half the cake mixture into the tin. Top with the disc of marzipan, then the remaining cake mixture, and level the top with a spatula. Bake for 2 hrs.
  8. Check it’s cooked by inserting a skewer to the centre of the cake, it should come out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin before removing and placing on a wire rack.
  9. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam. Roll out half of the remaining marzipan and use the base of the cake as a template to cut out another disc. Place it on top of the cake and crimp the edges, if you like. Roll the remaining marzipan into 11 equal-sized balls for the apostles. Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the apostles in a circle on top around the outside, and brush them with a little egg too. Use a blow torch or place under a hot grill for a minute until it just begins to caramelise.
  10. Leave to cool and store in an air tight container for up to 1 week.




Did You Know?

Vary the fruit – you could add chopped glace cherries, apricots or dried cherries as part of the dried fruit mix.

Makes 1 x 8 inch cake

500g mixed dried fruit soaked in the juice of 1 orange for 30 mins

Zest of 1 lemon

225g xylitol or erythritol (or use coconut sugar)

225g dairy free spread

4 eggs

1tsp mixed spice

1tsp ground Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Nutmeg

2tbsp brandy

225g gluten free self raising flour

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

25g ground almonds

Topping and middle layer

500g Ready to roll marzipan

3tbsp apricot jam, wamed

Beaten egg to brush top