A few days ago I showed you, step-by-step, how to make a Christmas fruit cake. Today I’m going to show you how to marzipan a Christmas cake. Not everyone likes marzipan, but it’s one of those ingredients I HAVE to have on a fruit cake, it just adds to the overall flavour – in my humble opinion! It also helps to create a nice even surface to apply icing to – whether that be fondant/sugarpaste or royal icing. And it also stops crumbs going into your lovely white icing.
As it happens, I’m not actually icing my Christmas cake at all this year. After some deliberation with myself, I’ve decided to decorate the top with fruit and nuts and a lovely ribbon around the sides. But, I have photographs from a cake I made a while back that I can use in this tutorial.
You only need two ingredients to marzipan a Christmas cake – a pack of marzipan and some apricot jam. I buy jam without any pieces of fruit in it. You really just want the cheapest jam you can find for making a glaze (at least, that is what my cake tutor taught me!)
How to marzipan a Christmas cake
1. For an 8″ round cake you will need…
- 500g marzipan
- 2-3 tbsps apricot jam
- a splash of water
- icing sugar
- pastry brush
- rolling pin
- smoothing tool
- palette knife
- cake board
2. Make the apricot glaze
Place 2-3 tablespoons of apricot jam into a saucepan and add a splash of water. On a gentle heat, squish the jam down with a back of the spoon so that it starts to melt down to form a glaze. You can sieve out any pieces of fruit if you couldn’t find any jam without them.
Allow to cool before use.
3. Fill in any gaps!
Sometimes, when cooking a rich fruit cake, pieces of fruit expand and pop out, leaving holes in your cake! Fill these in with blobs of marzipan to create a more even surface.
To be fair, looking back at this cake, it was very on the uneven side! I rough iced this so wasn’t too worried that it wasn’t completely level.
4. Stick your cake to the board
Put a blob of jam in the center of the cake board to act as the glue to hold your cake in place.
5. Measure your cake
To make sure you have rolled the marzipan wide enough, you need to measure up one side, across the top and down the other. I actually guestimate this using my rolling pin, by holding it next to my cake, holding it over the top and then back down the other side. It’s generally a little bit bigger than my large rolling pin!
6. Brush glaze over your cake
Using a pastry brush, generously slather over the cooled apricot glaze – both on the top and around the sides.
7. Knead the marzipan
You want the marzipan to be pliable, so take it out of the packet and start to knead with your hands. You can use icing sugar to stop it sticking everywhere. Roll it into a ball and place it onto your surface which you’ve dusted liberally with icing sugar.
8. Roll out the marzipan
Dust your rolling pin with icing sugar and begin to roll out evenly, lifting and turning so you know it hasn’t stuck to the surface. You want to roll it to about ¼” thick and in a rough circle a bit bigger than the size you require.
9. Transfer the marzipan to the cake
Draping the marzipan over your clean arm (it’s so much easier than faffing about draping it on the rolling pin!) move the marzipan over to your cake, aiming to get the cake roughly in the center. Gently smooth down the sides, with your hands to get an even finish – you may have to lift and pull to get it to lay correctly, as well as to remove air bubbles.
10. Smooth and trim
Using the smoothing tool and a dusting of icing sugar, press down firmly and smooth the top of the cake, then gently over the edges and down the sides. You can then use a palette knife to trim the excess marzipan close to the base of the cake.
And that’s how to marzipan a Christmas cake!
Since it is the marzipan layer, it doesn’t have to be perfect (unless you’re going to flat ice it!) so don’t panic too much if its not completely even – icing can cover up a lot of the imperfections!
Ideally you want to leave the marzipan to dry for about a week in a cool dry place. The kitchen is NOT a good place to store a cake because of the moisture in the air from cooking. And don’t place the cake in a covered cake tin. I just leave mine on a shelf in the living room!