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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. OutrageousGrace

    Hi Lynda,
    I’d use the uncooked recipe as it’s so delicious, just make sure you eat the sweets fairly quickly (I’m sure that won’t be a problem!). I’d say keep them no more than a week or two.
    Obviously if you’re worried about the raw egg, then use a cooked marzipan.

    P.S. I made my wedding cake, marzipan, icing and all – lovely!

  2. i love the idea of this recipe, my boyfriends father and i love the thorntons marzipan sweets covered in chocolate and i wanted to make something similar. does anyone know if i’m better off using this uncooked recipe or a cooked one to use for making chocolate covered sweets? thanks

  3. OutrageousGrace

    Rose – if you read this – can I ask what quantities you use for the royal icing? I have made my own wedding cake, plan to use the above recipe for marzipan and would like to use your recipe for royal icing. I have a large cake to ice – 12″ round.
    Thanks guys for a really helpful site with loads of useful comments.

  4. Helen Thomson

    Can one ice a fruit wedding cake without using almond icing. I had thought I might do two layers of royal icing. Would this work. My daughter is adamant she does not want almond icing. Also my grandson is allergic to nuts and I have left them out of the cake.

    • Fiona Nevile

      I don’t know the answer to this – I’d be worried about bleed through.
      If you do try this I’d love to hear how you got on.

  5. Marianne

    Hi, thanks for this recipe, it’s so tasty! I don’t think I’ll need to buy shop marzipan again. It tended to fall apart a bit when I was rolling it out, does this happen to you or was I doing something wrong? I did realise afterwards that the eggs weren’t room temperature as I’d taken them straight out of the fridge.
    Also, would I be able to post the recipe on my blog with a link to your site?

  6. sheila new

    cAN ANYONE tell me why after putting my marzipaned cake in a tin, with foil around it, it ended up wet and sticky, when I opened the tin to ice it. I kept it in tin for 5 days. What am I doing wrong.
    Also how long does a cake keep onced iced ? some sites say 7 days, although I thought a cake would keep for several weeks after being iced.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Sheila

      Perhaps the tin was put somewhere cold and condensation built up in the tin? Wrap the cake in parchment or greaseproof paper and leave the cake somewhere dry and reasonably warm (such as the airing cupboard as it is so close to Christmas!). It need to be able to breath to dry.
      A good Christmas cake should last for months. Our recipe keeps for weeks and it’s not the traditional type.
      Re the icing, add water very sparingly and slap it on very thick or it will just roll off the cake.

  7. I am a newbie cook and I just made this marzipan and covered the cake (also made from your recipe). It is delicious – the marzipan that is as I’ve been eating the leftovers – haven’t tried the cake yet!

    Question though – you say it only keeps a week or so due to the raw eggs, and yet obviously the cake won’t get touched until Saturday and then probably take a while to get through – what does this mean for the marzipan?

    Sorry if that is a stupid question!

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Jo

      Strangely once the cake is iced the marzipan doesn’t go off. Our cake lasts easily until the end of January if it’s not eaten before then.

  8. Christina

    I’ve just made the cooked version. Its quite grainey is this normal? will the non cooked version be smoother?

    p.s love this site i’ve made heaps of jams and chutneys this year using your recipies.

  9. Re fresh eggs in marzipan: I always used only egg yolks (not whole eggs), but on one occasion my marzipan fruits (petits fours) went mouldy. A couple of spoons of liquid glucose (add slowly until the right consistency is reached) instead of fresh raw egg yolks solves this problem and works as well.

    re Royal icing: instead of water, which makes for a boring icing, mix the icing sugar with lightly beaten egg white and lemon juice. I use plenty of lemon juice and it gives it a great flavour. the egg white keeps the icing soft inside and it still has a nice crisp crust on the outside. It also gives the icing a nice sheen. Make it fairly stiff (but not so stiff it won’t spread) and dollop liberally on the top of the cake – let the marzipan topping dry off for a couple of days first. Then use a flat knife and smooth the icing over the top and down the sides to an even thickness. When covered all over, dip the knife in hot water and gently smooth the cake. Keep repeating this – but don’t allow too much water to get onto the icing. The heat of the knife will melt the sugar a little and make a nice smooth glossy surface. If you do it carefully I guarantee you won’t have lumps and won’t need sandpaper to smooth the icing!

  10. Thank you
    Your help will be appreciated .
    I was also thinking about what may have gone wrong. One thing that I can remember is that in order to remove the almond skin I soaked them in warm water and the almond were not 100% dry when I chopped them up. So they ended up more in a thick paste like form rather the powder form. But since I had never made marzipan before I thought maybe this is how almonds were supposed to turn out .
    What is your opinion about this?

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