• Simnebun cake with Italian meringue & caramel-chocolate sauce gives a new meaning to the word ‘indulgence’. This sweet, sticky and rich creation is a real showstopper. It takes a little time, but is definitely worth the effort. You’ll be getting compliments on this gorgeous creation all night long!

    Simnebun cake with Italian meringue & caramel-chocolate sauce

    Serves: 8 - 10
    Cooking Time: 4 hrs 30 mins


    • Almond paste

    • 185g castor sugar
    • 180g ground almonds
    • 3 free-range eggs, beaten
    • 2,5ml (½ tsp) almond essence
    • Simnebun cake layers

    • 270g salted butter
    • 270g treacle sugar
    • 3 large eggs, beaten
    • 270g cake flour
    • pinch salt
    • 1,25ml (¼ tsp) ground allspice
    • 1,25ml (¼ tsp) ground cinnamon
    • 100g dried figs, finely chopped
    • 150g fresh figs, peeled and chopped
    • 25g mixed peel, chopped
    • 50g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
    • zest of ½ lemon
    • Chelsea bun layer

    • 100ml full-cream milk
    • 50g castor sugar
    • 50ml canola oil
    • 5g dried yeast
    • 150ml buttermilk
    • 300g cake flour, sifted + extra, to dust
    • 40g cake flour, sifted
    • 2,5ml (½ tsp) salt
    • 2,5ml (½ tsp) baking powder
    • 2,5ml (½ tsp) bicarbonate of soda
    • 75g butter, melted
    • Italian meringue

    • 230g white granulated sugar
    • 80ml water
    • 5 large egg whites
    • 115g castor sugar
    • Caramel-chocolate sauce

    • 80ml water
    • 220g white granulated sugar
    • 25g butter, cut into cubes
    • 60ml (¼ cup) fresh cream
    • 40g milk chocolate, melted
    • small handful pecan nuts, to serve
    • small handful fresh figs, to serve
    • 50 g golden brown sugar
    • 7,5ml (1 ½ tsp) ground cinnamon
    • 100g soft dried figs, finely chopped
    • 3 fresh figs, peeled and chopped
    • 25ml fig jam



    Preheat the oven to 150°C and grease three 19cm-diameter springform cake tins.


    For the almond paste, place the sugar and almonds in a bowl. Add the eggs and mix through. Add the almond essence and mix until a paste forms, 1 minute.


    For the simnebun layers, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs until well incorporated, then sift in the flour, salt and spices, a little at a time, until mixed through. Stir in the figs, peel, nuts and grated lemon zest. Pour 250ml (1 cup) batter into a prepared cake tin. Spoon over 125ml (½ cup) almond paste, then pour 125ml (½ cup) cake batter on top. Repeat with the remaining cake tins and bake until cooked through, about 1 hour.


    For the Chelsea bun layer, place the milk, sugar and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool to 25°C on a sugar thermometer. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the liquid, add the buttermilk and the 300g flour. Stir gently until combined and the mixture is wet and sticky. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rest in a warm place, 1 hour.


    Once rested, add the 40g flour, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Mix until the dry ingredients are fully combined, cover with cling film and set aside to rise, 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 175°C and grease a 19cm-diameter springform cake tin.


    Place the rested dough on a lightly dusted surface and roll it as thinly as possible, into a 30cm x 15cm rectangle. Pour the melted butter over the rectangle and spread with a pastry brush to cover. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle evenly over the buttered rectangle. Sprinkle over the figs, dab with fig jam and cut into 3cm-wide pieces. Roll up the first strip and place in the prepared cake tin. Roll up the remaining dough strips and place around the first roll to form a giant cinnamon-roll shape (click here for a how-to guide to this step). Cover and set aside to rest until slightly puffed up, 15 minutes. Bake in the oven, 30 minutes.


    For the meringue, place the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil until it reaches 121°C on a sugar thermometer. Whisk the egg whites in a free-standing blender until stiff peaks form, then gradually add the castor sugar, about 15ml (1 tbsp) at a time, whisking constantly until mixed through. Gradually add the sugar syrup in a thin, flowing stream to the egg while whisking. Whisk until the mixture is cool, about 15 minutes.


    For the caramel-chocolate sauce, heat the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until caramel in colour. Take care not to burn yourself. Whisk in the butter and then the cream. Set aside to cool slightly. Stir in the melted chocolate.


    To assemble the cake, layer the simnebun cakes with the Italian meringue spread in between, then top with the Chelsea bun cake. Drizzle generously with the caramel-chocolate sauce. Sprinkle with nuts and top with fresh figs.


    Cook’s tip: If preferred, this recipe can make 5 smaller cakes instead of 1 large. The smaller versions comprise 2 simnebun layers (not 3) and 1 Chelsea bun layer for the top. Use 10cm-diameter ovenproof rings and bake the simnebun layers for 30 minutes and the Chelsea bun layers for 20 minutes.