RECIPE: Chocolate Simnel cake

An Easter tradition that can be traced back to medieval times, Simnel cake is a fruit cake with a marzipan filling that's topped with 11 balls of marzipan to represent the 11 disciples - excluding Judas. This is a chocolatey twist on the traditional version

11 March 2018 - 00:00 By Chrizelle Fourie
Chocolate Simnel cake.
Chocolate Simnel cake.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

Makes: 1 large cake


225g butter, softened

225g light muscovado sugar

4 large eggs

240g (2 cups) cake flour

5ml (1 tsp) baking powder

10ml (2 tsp) mixed spice

350g mixed dried cake fruit

100g red glacé cherries

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

100g ground almonds

100g chocolate chips

350g marzipan

Chocolate ganache:

300g dark 70% chocolate, in pieces

150ml cream

30ml (2 tbsp) butter

To decorate:

1 egg white

A handful of caster sugar

11 chocolate discs and edible flowers


  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Spray a 20cm deep, round cake pan and line the base and sides with baking paper.
  2. To make the cake, place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and spice, stirring into egg mixture, then add the cake fruit, cherries, lemon zest, almond and chocolate chips.
  5. Pour half the mixture into the prepared pan.
  6. Divide the marzipan and roll one half into a disc the size of the cake pan and place the disc on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top of the marzipan circle and level the surface.
  7. Bake for about 2½ hours until risen, evenly brown and
    firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and remove the paper
    and cool on a wire rack.
  8. For the ganache, place the chocolate, cream and butter in a pan and, stirring with a whisk, melt over a low heat. Set aside to cool and allow to thicken in the fridge.
  9. Spread the cake evenly with the chocolate ganache mixture.
  10. Use the remaining marzipan to make 11 balls, then brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Brown the marzipan balls lightly with a blow torch or under the grill.
  11. Place the chocolate discs around the edge of the cake, top with the marzipan balls and decorate with flowers.