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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:,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,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.
  • 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
  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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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Janet

    Mine is a eight inch round tin so you may need to up the amounts a bit.

  2. Janet Brown

    I am making a 9″ square Wedding Cake. What size does this recipe cover?

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi val

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hi,
    I have used sandpaper(out of desperation) on royal icing in the past, but actually found that it made the icing tough on the surface. I did get a bit carried away though. I would use it again but only on small sections. As for safe; so long as you brush any loose powder away I can’t see a problem. I had no complaints.

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Julia

    I am sorry but I have never used royal icing so I can’t help.

    I remember my mother using a knife and a bowl of hot water to smooth icing when I was a child.

    Perhaps another reader knows the answer.

  6. I would like to ice my Ruby Wedding cake with royal icing as my family do not like roll-on icing. How do I get it smoothe?
    As a practice run, using my Christmas cake, I used Royal Icing Sugar (ie contains dried egg white) and found it useful. I made up the first coat quite thick, spread it as flat as I could and left it for a week. Then made a runny version and poured it over. It was quite smoothe on the top, but lumpy on the sides.
    I have heard that they used to smoothe royal icing using sandpaper in the old days. Is this safe? Does it work?
    All comments welcome!

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Crystal

    Glad that you liked the marzipan!

    It is very sticky and I use a wooden board scattered liberally with icing sugar.

  8. Hi Fiona,

    This recipe tasted amazing! Thank you. My family were so impressed đŸ™‚

    The only tip I would give to any fellow readers who are going to try it is not to roll it out on a silicone mat like I did! Silicone and marzipan did not mix well…it stuck to everything!



  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mildred,

    My mum used to makes home made marzipan sweets every Christmas. They were delicious too.

    Thanks for leaving a comment.

  10. Just found your marzipan recipe. Mine is almost the same apart from using sherry instead of spirit, and all egg yolks (no whites).
    I agree, you really can’t beat home made marzipan!

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