(This is enough to make a 9" cake. Halve the quantities for a 6" or use the left-overs to dye and make into marzipan fruits)
1lb ground almonds (either ready ground, or blitzed in a food mixer)
1lb icing sugar, sifted
2 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
2 tbsp brandy
2 tsp lemon juice
a couple of drops of natural almond extract
- Place the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.
- Whisk the eggs and sugar just like when you are making a sabayon or zabaglione. The important thing is that the mixture doesn't get too hot and curdle, so keep the flame low. The mixture will become pale, frothy and quite thick.
- Whisk in the brandy, lemon juice and almond extract (if using) until thoroughly combined.
- Take the bowl off the heat and leave to cool.
- Whisk again and pour in the ground almonds.
- Combine thoroughly and knead to form a firm paste.
- Wrap the marzipan in clingfilm and leave to rest somewhere cool for at least 2 hours before rolling out.
- When you're ready to use it, warm some apricot jam in a saucepan with a tiny bit of water. Once it's hot, you can pour it through a sieve if you like, but I often don't bother.
- Roll out your marzipan to a thickness of about half an inch.
- Brush your cake with the hot apricot jam and place your rolled-out marzipan over the top. Cup the marzipan around the edges of your cake with your hands and then pat it down the sides so it is properly stuck. Smooth it over with your hands or use a couple of plastic smoothers for a more even surface.
- Leave the marzipan for a day or 2 (or longer) to harden. This will make icing your cake much easier.
- If you are using roll out fondant/ sugarpaste to ice your cake, stick it on to your marzipanned cake with a light brushing of brandy.
I like to roll the marzipan out on to a sheet of baking parchment dusted with icing sugar, as it's less likely to stick to the surface and you'll need less icing sugar than if you roll it out directly on the table top.