Monday, 7 December 2009

Almond Marzipan

By now, your home-made Christmas cake will have had plenty of time to be fed, fed again and then fed some more with generous pourings of your chosen tipple/s. You can, by all means, carry on feeding it some more before you ice it with marzipan. There is no rush. But, if you're the sort who likes to get things done early, so you can tick them off your "to do" list, give your cake one last drink before getting on with making your marzipan.

As I said in my last post, marzipan divides opinion and tends to draw out strong marmite-y love/hate responses. For those that love the stuff, here is the recipe I use for my own cakes. When I am making the cake to eat myself, I leave out almond extract altogether, but when making it to sell, I add just a couple of drops of NATURAL almond extract (unless instructed otherwise) because so many people love the familiarity of its flavour. If you like your marzipan to be lurid yellow, you can add some paste dye in the kneading stage, but use latex gloves or clean marigolds if you don't want yellow hands for the rest of the week. For those that can't stand the stuff, I'll be posting up my recipe for hazelnut and Grand Marnier marzipan in the next couple of days.

(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.


  1. Hi Victoria
    I now have a beautifully marzipanned cake (never made my own before and it tastes so much better. But the final question is - how to get good icing effects without just doing those snowy fork effects which I normally resort to?

  2. You can get edible snowflake lustre from Squires Kitchen or any cake decorating suppliers which gives the icing a really pretty frosty shine. You can even dye the royal icing a very soft shade of ice blue before dusting it with lustre and then top it with either hand piped snowflakes (easier than it sounds, just print off a basic line drawing of a snowflake and place it under a sheet of acetate or baking parchment and use a No. 2 nozzle to pipe along the lines. Make sure there are no gaps though or it will fall to bits before it gets to your cake. You can shimmer up the snowflakes too if you like. Once dry transfer on to your cake with a palette knife. You can secure them with a blob of royal icing) or just roll out a smal piece of sugar paste and cut out some snowflakes with a snowflake cutter.