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Easy marzipan recipe and a few icing tips

Marzipan icing on a cake

Marzipan icing on a cake

I love marzipan. The homemade kind is the most delicious and it’s a cinch to make. My mum used to announce that she’d made it with such a sonorous trumpeting that, for years, I imagined it was a complex procedure.

I made it in a matter of minutes and rang her just in case I’d got something wrong. She was a bit crouchy that her secret was finally revealed. Her marzipan recipe is below.

Some people prefer cooked marzipan. This is a much more complex process and is covered here on the Delia online website:
http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/almond-icing-marzipan,890,RC.html

The other fact that my mother hadn’t mentioned was how tricky it can be to ice the cake. The first time that I iced a Christmas cake I’d left it rather late in the day, mixed up some icing and poured it onto the cake. It looked wonderful. I pottered off to put up some decorations. When I returned a few minutes later, the cake was sitting on the plate, marooned in a sea of icing and covered with the thinnest layer of icing that I’d ever seen. You can get around this problem by using royal icing. Delia has a good recipe for this
http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/royal-icing,1040,RC.html

I prefer my icing to be soft and thick, not the teeth snapping stuff that can probably be obtained free from out of work dentists. When I found that I had a cake with a whisper of icing, I rang my mum again. She explained that the icing sugar mix has to be fairly stiff when applied. She just used icing sugar and water and so do I. If your mixture is a bit thin add more icing sugar before applying. If you find that it is too thin after applying it to the cake, keep on reapplying the icing with a knife, it will gradually dry out and thicken.

Best marzipan recipe (uncooked)
Recipe Type: Icing
Author: Fiona Nevile
If you marzipan and ice your cake immediately you may get bleed through from the almond oil in the icing. To avoid this, I try and marzipan a minimum of two days before icing. Then I leave the cake for a day in a warm spot overnight and put it in the larder until Christmas Eve, in a tin. It’s iced when the King’s College Carol Service is trilling on the TV.
Ingredients
  • Apricot jam/apple jelly (for glaze)
  • 400g ground almonds
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 240g icing sugar
  • 2 medium egg yolks
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 desertspoon of lemon juice
  • 6 drops vanilla essence
  • 4 drops almond essence
  • 1 dessertspoon of brandy/ Irish whiskey
Instructions
  1. Heat your jam or jelly gently until just simmering and remove from heat. Using a pastry brush, apply to the cake’s surface (top and sides).
  2. In a large bowl, sift the caster and icing sugar (this is worth doing as both can be lumpy and it takes seconds to sift). Add the ground almonds and stir well.
  3. Beat the eggs, add them to the mixture and add the lemon juice, vanilla, almond essence and brandy.
  4. Mix well, with a light touch.
  5. Sprinkle a board liberally with icing sugar and knead mixture briefly until smooth.
  6. Measure the diameter and the height of the cake with a piece of string. Rollout with a rolling pin to the correct size and apply to the cake. Smooth out the marzipan and finish with a hot knife if very bobbly.
  7. If you prefer you can cover the top and then the sides as follows. Roll out the marzipan. Place cake topside up on the marzipan and cut to the correct diameter. Set this aside. Reform the marzipan and roll out a long thin strip the height of your cake. Apply the marzipan to the sides of the cake before you lift on the top. Smooth the joints and set your cake in a warm spot to dry the marzipan coating before icing.

 


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57 Comments

  1. I’m new to baking and I’m confused, do you marzipan the cake and then have to ice it? Or could you just leave it once you cover the cake with marzipan? Or is there a reason for the icing? Thanks

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Mel

      The icing makes the marzipan keep well. Marzipan alone would get rather dry too!

  2. I’ve just tried the recipe but substituted 400g of ground walnuts instead of the almonds (I ground them fine myself in the food processor). The resulting mixture has turned out VERY wet – I guess the walnuts don’t soak up moisture as well as as almonds do. I’ve ended up adding approx 500g of icing sugar to the mix and it’s in the fridge as we speak in the hope it’ll firm up further. Luckily there’s plenty of time to let it dry out!
    Anyone else attempting walnut marzipan, I’d recommend halving the “wet” ingredients and seeing how it turns out, then adjust from there.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Gosh I didn’t even know that you could make walnut marzipan! Thanks for the advice.

  3. Hi Fiona – you’ve just saved the day. I’d lost my usual marzipan recipe and the one I tried was so dry that it wouldn’t roll out – so I googled ‘make marzipan’ and guess who came up in the top few results? Your marzipan is just so good, thanks very much for sharing the recipe. I even managed to salvage most of the hopeless attempt by incorporating it into the mix a bit at a time (I’ve reworked the remainder but as it is a bit messy will use it in stollen where it can be disguised!)

  4. I was just reading this out of interest as I’ve made my marzipan. I looked at several recipes in my cookbooks, and ended up using Jane Grigson’s from English Food. It’s very different from most recipes. It has far less sugar than any other recipe I’ve seen: for 500 g of almonds, 250 g of sieved icing sugar, 1 egg, and 3-4 tsp of lemon juice (I added a drop of vanilla too).

    It was very easy to roll out — not at all sticky. I used Jane’s method of rolling it out on a sheet of baking parchment, used the tin I baked the cake in as a cutting guide, then put it on the cake marzipan-side down and peeled off the paper. Easy peasy!

    On its own the marzipan doesn’t taste that interesting, but when it’s covered in incredibly sugary royal icing, cutting down the sugar seems to make sense. Jane Grigson does say you can add another 250 g of sugar and another egg to make it sweeter. I’d guess a spot of brandy wouldn’t go amiss either :)

  5. Thanks Veronica – Jane Grigson’s is the one I’ve been making for years with 2 to 1 almonds to sugar. No need for almond essence if it tastes of almonds already.

    Personally I wouldn’t add any other flavourings except possibly a little alcohol to match that in the cake.

    I prefer the taste of golden sugar so I sometimes use golden castor sugar, or I think Billingtons may make a golden icing sugar.

    Freshly ground almonds have a better flavour than pre-ground almonds that may have been sitting around for a while. Rather than using ground almonds, buy whole blanched almonds and grind them in the blender to the texture you like. I prefer some small crunchy lumps of almond.

    Use the best-tasting almonds you can get – I usually look for organic almonds and skin them by blanching in boiling water for a minute or so. Drain them and pop them out of their skins, then put them in a single layer on kitchen paper to dry them. When they’re skinned, put them on foil on a baking sheet in a low oven for five minutes or so to dry them out.

    I sometimes lightly toast a quarter or so to give a stronger flavour.

    Mix the marzipan to a dryish consistency which you can roll – too wet and it will be sticky; too dry and it will crack too easily at the edges. I usually do this on a sheet of greaseproof paper as I can easily turn the whole thing over onto the cake.

    Once you’ve marzipaned your cake, cross-hatch the top with a knife, and put it under a hot grill for a few minutes to lightly toast it.

    This gives a very good, almond-flavoured marzipan, and the leftovers make decorations or a few small sweets which usually disappear very quickly.

  6. Glenda Singh

    I love this recipe, but am unable to see it this year because the `Comments’ box is masking the instructions — is there any way of reducing it?
    Cheers,
    Glenda

  7. JANE LLOYD

    I am also having this problem,the comments box is masking all the recipes and instuctions!! Am looking for the delicious cranberry sauce recipe but am unable to read it!! Pleeaasee help?

  8. Ooops – no idea what has happened. Possibly as a result of an upgrade. Let’s see if I can sort it pronto.

  9. Something wrong with your site. Can’t see the recipe at all. Looks like the comment box is covering it. Hope you sort it, would love to see your recipe!!

  10. Hi everyone

    I used my web developer skills to extract the recipe — here it is for those who can’t see it!

    Apricot jam/apple jelly (for glaze)
    400g ground almonds
    240g caster sugar
    240g icing sugar
    2 medium egg yolks
    2 medium eggs
    1 desertspoon of lemon juice
    6 drops vanilla essence
    4 drops almond essence
    1 dessertspoon of brandy/ Irish whiskey
    Instructions
    Heat your jam or jelly gently until just simmering and remove from heat. Using a pastry brush, apply to the cake’s surface (top and sides).
    In a large bowl, sift the caster and icing sugar (this is worth doing as both can be lumpy and it takes seconds to sift). Add the ground almonds and stir well.
    Beat the eggs, add them to the mixture and add the lemon juice, vanilla, almond essence and brandy.
    Mix well, with a light touch.
    Sprinkle a board liberally with icing sugar and knead mixture briefly until smooth.
    Measure the diameter and the height of the cake with a piece of string. Rollout with a rolling pin to the correct size and apply to the cake. Smooth out the marzipan and finish with a hot knife if very bobbly.
    If you prefer you can cover the top and then the sides as follows. Roll out the marzipan. Place cake topside up on the marzipan and cut to the correct diameter. Set this aside. Reform the marzipan and roll out a long thin strip the height of your cake. Apply the marzipan to the sides of the cake before you lift on the top. Smooth the joints and set your cake in a warm spot to dry the marzipan coating before icing.

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