With Christmas Day around the corner we’re now ready to move on to the next stage of our homemade fruity Christmas Cake creations. Stage two is all about the marzipan, an essential layer found in all traditional Christmas cakes.
The Marzipan layer plays two important roles, it adds a subtle hint of almond which enhances the overall flavour but more importantly it helps to lock moisture inside the cake too.
If you’re too busy to make your own marzipan then shop bought packets will speed up the process, however, if you fancy making your own this year then I can highly recommend Nigel Slaters Homemade Almond Marzipan Paste. The delicate flavours of the almond and orange are lovely together and it is really easy to make too. You’ll find the recipe at the bottom of this post.
Before adding the marzipan layer to your Christmas cake you’ll need to make sure you have the following pieces too;
- Apricot Conserve
- Pastry Brush
- Rolling Pin
- Icing Sugar
- Smoother Tool
- Sharp Knife
Carefully unwrap your Christmas Cake and turn upside down. This ensures you have a lovely flat top to work with, making your marizpan layer nice and even. If the base is not level simply carve a little from the base (which was the top of your cake!) to achieve a flat, stable base.
Add two large tablespoons (or more dependant on the size of your cake) of apricot conserve to a small pan, add a splash of water and bring to a gentle boil. As soon as it starts to simmer remove from the heat. Place a sieve over a bowl and pour the apricot conserve into the sieve, discard any lumpy bits. Set to one side to cool a little.
Lay a piece of string over the cake to measure the size of the marzipan required. If you plan to ice the whole cake make sure the string goes over the sides too. Do this BEFORE you add the apricot conserve! Keep the measured string to one side, you’ll need this when you start to roll the marzipan.
Glaze all the parts of the cake that you plan to cover with marzipan with the warm apricot conserve using a pastry brush. This ensures the marzipan sticks and remains stuck to the cake during serving.
Lightly dust a work surface with icing sugar and kneed the marzipan until soft and pliable. Form a round mound then begin to roll the marzipan to a 4-5mm thickness, turning it frequently so it does not stick to the surface.
Take your piece of string and lay it over the rolled marzipan to check it is wide enough to cover the cake. Using your rolling pin gently fold the marzipan over it and then carefully place onto the cake.
Using your smoother tool gently smooth the marzipan on the top of the cake and ease the sides down with the palm of your hand. The marzipan will be quite pliable which allows you to ease it around the sides without it breaking. Once you have covered all the sides push the sides of the base firmly before trimming any excess away with a sharp knife.
Continue to smooth all around the cake using the smoother tool or palm of your hand until completely smooth and flat.
Place in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for a few days. Experts suggest leaving at least a week between applying the marzipan and then adding the final layer of icing to the cake. During this time the marzipan will have time to set allowing you to add a smooth layer of icing to the top, it makes the icing process a little easier too.
Homemade Almond Marzipan Paste
Preparation time: 10 minutes
This recipe will cover a 25cm cake
Recipe from Nigel Slater; theguardian.com
- 200g Golden icing sugar
- 200g Golden caster sugar
- 500g Ground almonds
- Zest of a small orange
- 2 Medium eggs, beaten
- 2-4 Tsps orange or lemon juice
1. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl and mix with the ground almonds and golden caster sugar.
2. Add the orange zest and the beaten eggs and mix until you have a firm dough, add the juice a little at a time. It is important not to make the paste too wet and sticky, you need to be able to roll it.
3. Dust the work surface with a layer of icing. Lightly knead the dough on the work surface until it is smooth and pliable.
The final task to create a Perfectly Fruity Christmas Cake is the icing and decoration. We’ll be providing tips on this third and final step in a week or two.
To try making your own delicious Christmas Cake follow our Easy Steps To A Perfectly Fruity Christmas Cake.