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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. Can you give me any idea of what I did wrong? (sorry this should have been added to the end part of my last comment)

  2. I tried making marzipan and I followed the cooked marzipan recipe from Delia’s site ( link given on your page.
    The marzipan I made did not turn out very smooth and there were too many cracks in it when ever I tried to roll it out plus it was very difficult to knead and work with as it kept sticking to my hands. I think it was too soft because the flowers I made with it did not stand upright for too long ( I did not even add all the egg mixture to the almonds for fear that the mixture may become softer)
    I must add that it tasted fine but like I said it did not look attractive at all with all those cracks in it.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Sonia

      I don’t know what went wrong. Need a couple of days to research this. I will get back to you!

  3. Hi
    It’s coming to that time of year again and am turning my thoughts to Christmas and found your site. I will probably be very busy on the run up to Christmas as am in retail. does the uncooked marzipan keep if so how long for and how is it best to store it, same question about the cooked marzipan
    Thanks for the site it’s great


  4. Hello!
    A bit of a novice question i’m afraid but is there a huge difference between essence and extract ? i can only find the latter and wondering if it’ll be horrible ? Thank you so much for such a lovely website and the happiest of christmases to you.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Amy

      The extract will be fine in the marzipan. Just a couple of drops.

  5. Thanks so much for this Marzipan recipe!

    I’ve decided to make Marzipan Chocolates to give at Christmas and this recipe is perfect. I’ve got about 45 – 50 pieces out and covered them in Lindt 50% chocolate with an almond on the top!

    The only thing is, I’m now the proud owner of 50 practice marzipan chocolates – the diet is over!!

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Amena

    The cooked marzipan is the one that’s closest to the store bought kind.

    In the uncooked one, you are not aware of the eggs at all. It tastes much richer than the shop bought marzipan.

  7. hi there,
    just wanted to know with the raw eggs, does the marzipan end up have an eggy smell or taste to it? also the fresh (uncooked) one, is that the closest to the store bought ones?
    i love marzipan and the fresh recipe seems quite simple to make.

  8. I’ve only just read this marzipan recipe – the day before Christmas eve!! I’ll try it anyway.

    In answer to an earlier question – I once made my marzipan with ground hazlenuts in place of the almonds as my mother was alergic to them. It turned out ok but not as good as the almond kind.

  9. Robin Wilton

    re Vicky’s question and Chris’ suggestion – yes, ground rice will work well. You could up the quantity of vanilla essence to substitute for the almond essence, or (if you have a week or two in hand) make your own vanilla sugar, which is a nice trick.

    To do so, you need:
    – caster sugar
    – a couple of vanilla pods
    – a glass kitchen jar (pasta jar or one of those jars with a rubber seal and a clamp-down lid.

    Pour half the caster sugar into the jar, ‘plant’ the vanilla pods in it vertically and pour in the rest of the sugar. The longer you leave it, the more the sugar will pick up the flavour of the vanilla pods.

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Chris

    Thanks for the tip!

    Hello Maggie

    You have to assess the risk yourself. We have never had a problem using raw eggs in marzipan. But there’s always a first time. There are loads of ‘hot’ marzipan recipes around that use cooked eggs. If you are concerned, it may be better to plump for one of these. I am willing to take the risk as fresh marzipan tastes so much better.

    Our cake lasts until the end of January (it’s usually finished by then) so I have no idea how much longer that it would keep for beyond a month or so. But if there is salmonella in the eggs you would know on Christmas Day.

    We keep our cake in a tin in a cool larder.

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