Vegan Maple Simnel Cake (Gluten-Free Option)

A light yet rich fruit cake with a sticky layer of marzipan running through and topped with a sticky marzipan decoration. This vegan cake is easy to make and is easily gluten-free making it a great Easter cake for all the family.

I was recently challenged to make a Simnel Cake with a twist. The twist was to not use any regular sugar but to only use maple syrup and I was only too happy – I love the sticky syrup and only the pure variety will do! I also had to google what constituted a Simnel Cake as a traditional Easter bake. It’s a spiced fruit cake, lighter than Christmas cake, with a round of marzipan baked into the centre of the cake and then topped with another layer of marzipan once the cake is cool. The traditional decoration is also 11 marzipan balls (representing the 12 disciples minus Judas) so I kept it fairly traditional for my Vegan Maple Simnel Cake.

Vegan Maple Simnel Cake
Vegan Maple Simnel Cake
Vegan Maple Simnel Cake
Vegan Maple Simnel Cake

Here’s what goes into the cake:

  • Vegan marzipan: not all marzipan is vegan, so make sure yours is vegan i.e. without dairy and egg products which are usually the culprits in “normal” marzipan. I haven’t made my own here as shop-bought is so good!
  • Mixed dried fruits: I used a mix of dried raisins, sultanas and cranberries but you could also use dried dates, apricots or figs, as long as they are chopped small.
  • Mixed spice and cinnamon: for the lovely warming spices. Mixed spice is a ready-made blend of cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg and mace. If you don’t have any, you can use some ginger and cinnamon.
  • Orange juice: this adds a lovely zesty fruitiness to the mix. You could also use apple juice.
  • Vegan butter or margarine: lightly whip the butter until smooth. I have not tried this with coconut oil, but I can imagine it works just the same. Make sure it is softened.
  • Maple syrup: the star of this cake! It makes the cake light and moist with a lovely, sweet taste. You could also use agave syrup, vegan or other honey. Working with a liquid sweetener for baking means you need a little less liquid elsewhere in the cake, which I have worked out here so if you choose to use a regular sugar, you will need to add some extra liquid e.g. 2-3 tbsp plant-based milk or even jam (I have not tested this).
  • Mashed banana: or apple puree. This keeps the cake really moist and fluffy (for a fruit cake) and adds some natural sweetness, fibre and it also acts as a natural binder.
  • Vanilla essence: for flavour.
  • Plain or GF plain flour: use a recommended 1:1 GF pre-made blend for best results with xantham gum to help bind this cake. I can imagine spelt or even buckwheat flour would also work.
  • Ground almonds: these add to the nutty taste and texture and I love the crumb. You could also use ground sunflower seeds or the meal/grind of another nut like hazelnut or cashew.
Vegan Maple Simnel Cake
Vegan Maple Simnel Cake

Apart from the marzipan, add all the ingredients for the cake into a bowl and stir to a thick and fruity batter. There isn’t a lot of “cake” batter for the whole mix as it is heavy on the fruit, but it makes this Vegan Maple Simnel Cake even more special. 

How to use the marzipan?

  • Divide the block into 3: this will make the middle round, the top round and the balls.
  • Roll into a round: this will be the layer to go inside the cake. Place half of the cake batter in the tin and then top with the marzipan. Top with the rest of the cake batter.
  • Roll a second round of marzipan: once the cake is cool, smother with maple syrup and top with another disk of marzipan.
  • Roll the balls: using the final third of marzipan, make 11 balls and arrange around the edge of the cake.
  • Brush with maple syrup: and then grill until golden and bubbling.
Vegan Maple Simnel Cake
Vegan Maple Simnel Cake

Make sure you keep an eye on this Vegan Maple Simnel Cake while it is under the grill to make sure it doesn’t burn as the syrup may catch if left unattended. Once golden brown, remove from the grill, place onto a plate and serve. This is so good with a cup of tea of coffee shared with friends and family.

The cake is heavier than a sponge cake but a lot lighter than a regular fruit cake thanks to the maple and the banana. The gooey marzipan in the middle is a real delight and is such a comforting cake.

If you are looking for more Easter recipes, how about my:

Vegan Maple Simnel Cake (Gluten-Free Options)

  • Servings: 11
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A light yet rich fruit cake with a sticky layer of marzipan running through and topped with a sticky marzipan decoration. This vegan cake is easy to make and is easily gluten-free making it a great Easter cake for all the family.


  • 500g vegan white marzipan
  • 375g mixed dried fruits, chopped small if needed
  • 3 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 75ml orange juice
  • 75g vegan butter or margarine
  • 60ml/80g maple syrup
  • 180g mashed banana (or apple puree)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 150g plain or GF plain flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • Decorating: 2-3 tbsp maple syrup


  1. Preheat the oven at 120Fan/140C and light grease then line an 8-inch round cake tin with parchment paper.
  2. Take 1/3 of the marzipan and roll it out onto a lightly floured surface (as big as your tin) and use the base of your tin to cut out a circle. Wrap up any scraps of marzipan for later.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, add the mixed dried fruits, mixed spice, cinnamon and orange juice and stir.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Now pour in the maple syrup, mashed banana and vanilla essence and whisk until incorporated.
  5. Sift in the flour and pour in the ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Stir to a thick and smooth batter.
  6. Fold in the mixed fruits (scrape all the spices and juices into the bowl). Pour half the batter into the tin, smooth over the top and place the circle of marzipan on top. Now cover with the remaining cake batter and smooth over the top.
  7. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until golden on top and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin then remove and cool fully on a wire rack.
  8. When the cake is cool, roll out ½ of the remaining marzipan to a circle the same size as your cake. Roll the rest of the marzipan into 11 balls.
  9. Heat the grill to medium-high and brush the cake with maple syrup. Place on the circle of marzipan, arrange the balls around the edges and brush the top with more syrup. Place under the grill and allow the top to turn golden brown, keep an eye on it as it will only take a couple of minutes.
  10. Remove from the grill and once cool, store at room temperature for 1 week.
Vegan Maple Simnel Cake
Vegan Maple Simnel Cake

I look forward to hearing what you think of this Vegan Maple Simnel Cake so please let me know in the comments below. If you make this cake, I’d love to see, so please tag me in your bakes! I’m @nourishing.amy on Instagram and use the hashtag #nourishingamy. I’m also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest  – please say hello!

With maple simnel love x

The original recipe and social media post were sponsored by Maple from Canada but this blog post is not sponsored and all opinions are my own.

  1. Chocoviv says:


  2. Yummy 😋 looks amazing-what a great way to celebrate Easter 🐣!! Splendid photography as always.
    I am sure your homemade Marzipan would taste amazing 😁😋
    Best Wishes Sophs and Ben says woofs 🐶xxxx Saved to my WordPress saved collection

  3. Anna says:

    This cake is soooo good! I made with wholemeal spelt flour, apple purée and homemade date-marzipan. I also scaled the ingredients down (you times all of them by 0.56) to fit in a 6 inch cake tin as it was only me and my mum who like simnel cake. It baked for the same time as in the recipe.

    • Hi Anna thank you so much for the wonderful feedback and I am so glad you loved it – sounds delicious and perfect for your mum and you! So happy 😇

  4. […] Vegan Fruit Cake is really similar to my Vegan Maple Simnel Cake, but this version is a little smaller and without the marzipan, opting for the buttercream […]

Leave a Reply