Chocolate simnel cake

Chocolate simnel cake
  • Serves icon Makes 1 x 20cm cake
  • Time icon Takes 20 minutes to make, plus 2 hours to bake

As much as we love the classic version, this chocolate simnel cake – made with cocoa powder and chocolate chunks – is certain to make Easter extra special. It’s really easy to make too: simply combine to mix, then bake!

Feeling adventurous? Try our whisky and pistachio simnel cake, or this chocolate version with sour cherry and hazelnut marzipan.


  • 200g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 225g light muscovado sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • 50g, cocoa powder, sifted
  • 100g plain chocolate, chopped
  • 125g glace cherries, chopped
  • 200g sultanas
  • 200g raisins
  • 50g candied orange peel, chopped
  • 75g chopped almonds or brazil nuts
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

For the decoration

  • 250g natural colour marzipan
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • Brown food colouring
  • Fresh lilac pansies or sugar flowers


  1. Preheat the oven to 160c/fan 140c/gas 3. Grease and line a deep 20cm round cake tin with baking paper. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat well until pale and creamy.
  2. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little flour if the mixture curdles. Stir in all the remaining cake ingredients to make a soft mixture. Mix well and spoon into the lined cake tin. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 150c/fan130c/gas 2 and bake for a further 1 ½ hours, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 1 hour then turn out and allow to cool completely.
  3. Reserve a small piece of marzipan for the ribbon, then divide the remainder into 3 and roll into long thin ropes about 40cm long. Plait the three together and wrap around the top of the cake.
  4. Mix the icing sugar together with 1-2 teaspoons water or enough to make a smooth thick icing. Pour onto the centre of the cake and allow to set. Roll out the remaining piece of marzipan and cut into a ribbon shape. Using food colouring, paint ‘simnel’ on the centre of the marzipan and place on the top of the cake. Decorate with flowers.


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