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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. Great Christmas cake! and am preparing to marzipan and ice it – but a query about using raw eggs in the marzipan: how long will the cake then keep and still be safe to eat? Also how safe it to eat with regard to salmonella? Thanks for your reply.


    Probably too late, but have just seen the query on substitute for almonds in marzipan. During the war and just after (my mother told me about it) semolina or ground rice was used. You would still have to choose your flavouring tho’

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Sonya

    Yes it’s two egg yolks and two eggs.

    Do hope that it turns out well for you!

  4. Hi
    I have made my Christmas cake, using your recipe, and hope to marzipan this weekend,
    Can you please confirm…do i use 2 egg yolks…and then 2 eggs?
    I have only recently discovered your site, but i am liking it alot!

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Angie

    You need to put the marzipan on the cake and wrap it let it dry for a few day otherwise it will bleed through into the icing. I usually put mine in a tin and then ice it just before Christmas.

  6. Hi

    I have just made marzipan for the first time, it turned out wonderful! I was wondering though, how soon do I need to ice the cake, can i leave it another week or should i do it sooner?

  7. If you don’t like almonds they can be replaced with ground pistachios. Never tried it myself but it is supposed to be delicious.

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Vicky

    Sorry to have missed your comment. The main ingredient of marzipan is almonds. I’m really sorry but I don’t have enough experience to answer your question.

    Perhaps you could go for an entirely different cake altogether!?

    Hi Amy,
    This marzipan last for a week or two at best, kept in the fridge. As it contains raw egg.

    It does freeze well but if you are making these sweets as presents you must tell your friends to sore the sweets in the fridge.

  9. Hi,
    Can anyone tell me how long this marzipan will last? I’m making sweets (with edible sparkles, colours etc!) for Christmas presents and would like to make a head start if possible!
    Thanks in advance if you or anyone else knows.

    PS I’m doing lots of baking/cooking/crafty things at the moment, and your site keeps coming up on search engines with answers to my questions, so thanks for all your help!

  10. Hi, this might seem like a really stupid question but does marzipan have to contain almonds? My fiance hates the flavour of marzipan but we really want a traditional wedding cake.
    Does you know of a good substitute for marzipan that we could flavour with something else?

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