Simnel squares

To give this moist, almond tart a special Easter-time theme, Angela Nilsen decorates it with golden marzipan eggs. Serve these Simnel squares for tea or as a dessert with custard or cream
By Angela Nilsen
Simnel squares
  • Rating:
  • Serves: Makes 15
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes plus chilling
  • Effort: easy


For the tart

  • 375 g packet shortcrust pastry
  • 100 g butter, softened
  • 100 g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 115 g ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 5 tbsp red fruit jam, such as berries and cherries conserve
  • 25 g flaked almonds

For the decoration

  • 100 g golden marzipan
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Tips and Suggestions

To get ahead, line the flan tin with pastry the day before, chill overnight, then bake and finish off the filling the next day.

Keep well wrapped or in an airtight tin and the simnel squares will keep for at least 2-3 days.


1. For the tart: carefully unroll the pastry then roll it out on a lightly floured surface so its slightly bigger and large enough to line a 30cm x 20cm x 2.5cm deep rectangular flan tin. Line the tin with the pastry, easing it into the corners. Prick the base with a fork and chill for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

3. Line the pastry with foil and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes until the pastry is set, then remove the foil and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes until it is pale golden.

4. Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric hand whisk until pale and creamy. Pour in the eggs gradually, beating well between each bit that you add. Fold in the ground almonds and almond extract using a large metal spoon. The mixture will look curdled.

5. Lower the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Spread the jam or conserve over the bottom of the baked pastry case, then pour over the filling and level it out. Scatter over the flaked almonds and bake 25-30 minutes until the top is golden and feels spongy.

6. For the decoration: while the tart is baking, shape the marzipan eggs. Cut the marzipan into 15 equal pieces, then with your hands, mould each piece into an egg shape. When the tart is done, remove it from the oven and lay the eggs on top while it is still hot, lightly holding each one down so the warmth of the tart lets them stick to the surface. Leave to cool, then remove the tart from the tin, sift the eggs with icing sugar and serve cut into pieces.

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