This classic fruit cake is traditionally baked at Easter: the eleven balls of marzipan on top represent Jesus’s disciples, minus Judas. There is also a lovely layer of marzipan inside the cake. Light and fruity – this version is gluten free, dairy free and vegan and tastes amazing.

Gluten Free & Vegan Simnel Cake

Difficulty – Easy

Time 20 minutes preparation, 1 hour 40 minutes cooking

Makes 1 x 18cm cake

What’s good about it?

This is a fabulous gluten free and vegan cake. Using apple puree in cakes is an easy way to replace eggs while adding fibre and natural sweetness. The addition of almonds is a great way to add in healthy fats and protein too.


  1. Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark 1. Line a 18cm / 7inch diameter cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Place the cranberries, dried fruit, cinnamon and mixed spice in a bowl. Pour over the apple juice and stir to coat. Roll out the marzipan between two pieces of cling film to a 2–3mm thick sheet. Place your baking tin over the marzipan and use it as a template to cut two circles. Keep the marzipan wrapped in cling film until needed to stop them drying out.
  3. In a mixing bowl or food processor cream together the spread, xylitol, apricot jam and apple puree. Add the flour, almonds and baking powder and mix to form a batter. Add the spiced fruit mix and apple juice, then stir until everything is well combined.
  4. Spoon half of the mixture into the tin, then top with one of the marzipan circles. Spoon over the rest of the mixture on top, smoothing out the top with a spoon.
  5. Cook the cake for 1 hour and 40 minutes until the cake is golden brown and cooked through (an inserted skewer should come out clean). Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. Brush the top of the cake with warmed apricot jam and top with the second marzipan circle.  With the remaining marzipan roll out 11 balls. Arrange these around the cake securing with a little of the apricot jam.
  7. Preheat the grill to high if using. Place the cake onto a baking tray and grill for 1-2 minutes, or until the top of the marzipan begins to brown. Alternatively use a cook’s blow torch to lightly brown the balls and the rest of the marzipan.
  8. Store in an airtight container or wrap in foil or greaseproof paper. This will keep for up to 1 week.



Did You Know? 

Instead of apple puree you can use other mashed up fruit – banana or pear are good options.


Makes 1 x 18cm Cake


50g dried cranberries or other dried berries

200g mixed dried fruit

2tsp mixed spice

1tsp cinnamon

50ml apple juice

1 block (500g) white marzipan (check labels to make sure vegan / gluten free)

50g dairy-free spread (can use coconut oil)

50g xylitol

3 tbsp pure fruit apricot jam (no added sugar)

125g apple puree (I use baby Hipp apple)

100g gluten free flour (I use Doves Plain Flour)

50g ground almonds

1tbsp gluten-free baking powder

1 tbsp apricot jam