Fiona Cairns' cherry and marzipan cake recipe

(394 ratings)

A cherry fruit cake with a layer of marzipan, which melts into the sponge making it sweet and moist. For more fruit cakes visit

Preparation Time25 mins
Cooking Time50 mins (may need an extra 10 mins)
Total Time1 hours 15 mins

A delicious fruit cake with a layer of marzipan, which melts into the sponge making it sweet and moist. A slice of this cherry cake is perfect with your afternoon cuppa


  • 225g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the tin
  • 200g whole undyed glacé cherries
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • ½tsp baking powder
  • 120g marzipan
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, finely grated, plus 2tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 115g ground almonds
  • 2tbsp demerara sugar




  1.  Preheat the oven to 170ºC/fan 160ºC/340ºC/gas mark 3 ½. Butter a 30x11x6.5cm loaf tin, or a 23cm round cake tin, and line the base with baking parchment.
  2. Rinse and completely dry the cherries on kitchen towel. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside. Roll out the marzipan between 2 sheets of clingfilm into a very thin rectangle or circle, slightly smaller than the tin, and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter, sugar and zest together in an electric mixer until very pale, light and fluffy (this will take about 5 mins).
  4. Beat in the eggs a little at a time, adding 1tbsp flour during the process to stop the mixture from curdling. Fold in the almonds, the sifted flour mixture and the lemon juice until well blended, then spoon half the cake mixture into the tin.
  5. Place half the cherries over the batter in a shape echoing that of the tin, towards the middle. This will support the marzipan. Lay on the marzipan, then add the remaining cherries, again in a shape echoing the tin, but this time towards the outer edge. Pour in the remaining batter.
  6. Sprinkle over the demerara and bake for 50–60 mins. It’s ready when a skewer comes out clean and the centre of the cake springs back to the touch.
  7. Cool the cake in the tin for 15–20 mins, then turn out and remove the paper. Leave to cool completely. Don’t worry if it sinks a bit in the middle; it's due to the weight of the marzipan and cherries. If decorating, simply invert it so the flat base forms the top.
Top Tip for making Fiona Cairns' cherry and marzipan cake

Use the best cherries you can find. If you can get glacé sour cherries, then do try them - they elevate this recipe into something very special - though it does still taste great with normal glace cherries


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