Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Marzipan time

Do you remember back in November when I shared my Christmas Cake baking with you?  Well, if you baked a cake, or if you have bought a plain fruit cake to decorate, now is the time to add the marzipan.

You need to marzipan it now to give the marzipan time to dry a little before you ice the cake.  Marzipan is made of almonds, and like most nuts they can be a little oily, so by taking the time to dry it out, you ensure that you don't get any marks coming through the finished icing and spoiling your finished cake.  Also, if you are about to marzipan your cake it is now too late to feed it with any more alcohol as otherwise that too might seep out and spoil your icing.

So, how to go about this and what are we looking for?  This is what you are aiming for.  I will take you through step by step to get to this, it really is easy!


To begin, take your cake out of the wrappings and place it onto a cardboard cake board, or, if you don't mind cutting directly onto your cake plate/stand etc then place the cake there.  I mind cutting on to my plate so I use a board.  Put the top downwards so that you have the nice flat bottom to work on.  If your cake has a domed top you have two options, either cut it level - and snack on the cake! - or if it is just a little wobble, prop it up with some little balls of marzipan under the cake so that it holds up level and flat.

Then you need to get some "glue" ready to stick the marzipan down to the cake.  I use apricot jam, which I believe is traditional.  The reason?  It only has a very light taste which will not take away from the other flavours, and it doesn't have seeds or pips or, for the most part, big bits of fruit that might make lumps or bumps!  Put a couple of tablespoons in a small saucepan and put to one side for now.


Then take your marzipan.  Now, I use the "white" marzipan, which is basically the natural stuff.  The yellow marzipan has colouring added.  Either is fine, this is just my preference.  I use two blocks which I think are just over 450g each - about a pound.  This is for two reasons which I will explain as we go on!


Your instinct might be to reach for the flour at this point, but you don't want to add flour, you also don't want to use icing sugar.  The best thing to assist your rolling out - because this is sticky stuff! - is cornflour or cornstarch.  By which I mean the white powdered stuff, not the stuff you use for polenta.


Squish your two blocks of marzipan together using the heel of your hand and flatten them out a bit before you start rolling.  Then cornflour your rolling pin and start rolling.  you want a piece that is about 2 or 3 mm thick - as you would roll pastry for a pie - and larger than your cake is wide and tall.  By using a larger amount of marzipan you can generally be sure to get a large enough piece!



Then you need to apply your jam glue.  Heat up the jam in your pan until it starts to "melt" and go runny.  Don't boil it, just make it easy to spread around.  Then I use a silicone pastry brush to cover the top and sides of the cake well.  You can see below how it goes shiny.



Then wipe of any drips of jam that are on your board.  Roll the marzipan onto your rolling pin and slide the cake underneath and allow the marzipan to fall over the cake.  It will look a bit like a cake shaped Casper the friendly ghost.


Now, at this point it is easy to get scared.  You have a sticky cake, a large piece of marzipan draped over it and you really don't want a ghost, you want a cake.  Take your time!!!!  Gently, using your clean hands smooth the marzipan over the top of the cake and gradually work your hands down the sides.  You are smoothing and easing here.

Slowly and gently does it and before you know it, you will have a cake that has smooth marzipan over the top and sides.



Then, using the back of a knife, which you should hold parallel with the side of the cake, cut around the bottom of the cake to remove the excess marzipan.  Then lift off the excess marzipan.  Now, depending on how good you are, or how much you love marzipan you have two options.  You could make this into something else, marzipan fruits, chocolate covered marzipan balls, or, if you are like me, you can take this as the cooks perk.  Pop it into a sealed plastic bag and break off a chunk every now and then and eat it as a snack!  That is why I buy extra really!!



The just to finish off, smooth your hands over the cake again, paying attention to the edge that you cut, ease this gently "under" the cake to make a nice neat edge and a good seal.


Take a clean dry pastry brush, I prefer a bristle one here , that isn't the one you used for the jam, and brush off any excess cornflour, it will come away easily.

To dry your cake you need to let the air get to it.  You can do this in any number of ways, I have a mesh dome thing for keeping flies off things so sometimes I use that, you could put a cake dome over it and prop it up on one side.  Or you could do as I usually do.  Put the cake on the inside lid of a large cake tin, then put the main part of the tin over the top, at an angle.  This lets a bit of air in, but keeps anything else off the cake, and most importantly stops little - or large!  - fingers from poking your flat surface. 


Leave your cake until the surface feels dry to the touch, which will be a couple of days.  I then just close up the tin until I am ready to ice the cake.  I will try and do this later this week so that I can show you the next stage - in case you are following along!

I hope that you enjoy your cake making, decorating and eating!

Amy

p.s. if you have a square cake see below in the comments for a suggestion on how to proceed!

34 comments:

  1. Looks great! Top tip for extra marzipan, put discs of it in your mince pies under the pastry lid. It makes them go from gorgeous to OMG gorgeous xx

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  2. I have so enjoyed reading along on this Christmas cake tutorial. The marzipan coating looks perfect. I'm excited to see the next stage. Enjoy the rest of your week, Pat

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  3. It's looking great Amy, don't forget the excess marzipan can be rolled into balls and dipped in chocolate too ;)

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  4. that looks delicious! I'm not the world's biggest fan of marzipan, but I think I would make an exception ;) xx

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  5. So many great tips here, Amy. I love marzipan, so the buying extra would be ideal! I'm really looking forward to seeing how you ice your cake. xx

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  6. Looking good. I shall be doing the marzipan stage by the end of the week.

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  7. Looking good, a great tutorial. I like to use the excess marzipan for the mince pies, shred and pop in with a crumble top, believe me they are delicious.

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  8. You've made that sound really easy. I'm looking forward to seeing what the icing looks like, nearly ready to eat. x

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  9. Thanks for the tutorial Amy. My cake is square and I'm slightly worried about the edges - hospital corners?! I foresee quite a bit of cutting and sticking. (I know, first-world problems...)

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    1. Try smoothing the top on, then down the sides and cut the corners as if you were making a parcel then you should avoid too much excess on the corners, you can ease the joins together with your fingers and by the time you are all iced it will be fine! Hope it goes OK, remember, it will still taste delicious! xx

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  10. Nice and easy, but I don't buy ready-made marzipan, I make my own almond paste using the Cordon Bleu recipe from their part-work in the 1960s. It's delicious, but a bit more fiddly to put on the cake than ready-made marzipan. I also make my own royal icing - but first, I've got to make a cake!
    Margaret P

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  11. That looks easy, I always make a mess of it. Mind you, this year there is no need to decorate my cake because the teenager has already cut a big chunk out of it! x

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  12. You are so organised Amy...I'm afraid my marzipan tends to get thrown on around the 22nd and then if your lucky the icing happens in a mad dash on Christmas Eve...oops. Maybe now I'm retired I may be a little earlier ;) B X

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  13. This so reminds me of my Mum's baking and preparing for Christmas! I remember the smell of marzipan and brandy.
    It all looks so wonderful....I love Christmas :-)

    keep well

    Amanda :-)

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  14. We don't eat fruit cake so I've never made, or iced, a cake so I found this really interesting. I now know what to do, and more importantly why, should I ever find myself icing a cake.

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  15. I have never put marzipan on a cake before, but now if I want, I'll know just where to go for the instructions. Great tutorial here. Thank-you so much!

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  16. I am SO impressed, Amy! BEAUTIFUL! I think I'm missing something, not having a Christmas cake!

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  17. What a gorgeous post, Amy! Beautiful and fun, and I learned many useful things. I'm very good at eating cakes, but perhaps I should try the making&decorating part as well.
    Looking forward to the next stage! xx

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  18. I've never tried this, not sure if I've ever eaten it?? Anyway, you make it look so easy and pretty :)

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  19. wonderful Amy, I love the smell of marzipan. I really enjoyed your last post from Basilidon house, it looks stunning

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  20. This reminded me of helping my mum marzipan and ice the cake. You've clearly done this many times Amy because your tutorial is great. Looking forward to the icing on the cake!

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  21. As I don't like marzipan, I brush the cake with apricot jam, add the icing, then decorate it with marzipan fruits. That way, Malcolm, who does like marzipan, isn't deprived!

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  22. You make it look so easy - I want to try for myself.

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  23. I've often wondered how the marzipan was put on,you make it look easy.

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  24. Cooks' perks for me.. every time. Yum. :)

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  25. I'm not a marzipan fan, but hubby was drooling over your pictures, can't wait to see it iced xx

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  26. It looks great, Amy. I used to use caster sugar when rolling out the marzipan - more than likely because my mum did it that way!

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  27. Your shawl is lovely, Amy! Lucky recipient! I just love the wrapping too, you've made such a great job of the bag with the ribbon - very pretty!
    You're naughty, like me, with the marzipan - I love it too! I haven't started my cake yet, I will still make it!
    (Especially as I am much better now!)
    Barbara xx

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  28. You did an excellent job! It's flawless. I'm looking forward to seeing the next stage.

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  29. This looks professional, Amy, so neat and tidy. I adore marzipan, I've only ever tried it on a buttenburg cake.
    Amalia
    xo

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  30. Mm, looks good. I love fruit cake, and marzipan. You have made a very neat job of your marzipan Amy. X

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  31. It looks wonderful but so technical! Yum!
    Meredith

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  32. I'm looking forward to seeing the cake fully decorated. I don't like marzipan at all so our cake remains naked - but hopefully still delicious. I'm planning on having my first slice today!

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  33. This turned out so great! YUM! Cannot wait to see it finished!

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J! Merry Christmas!

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