Putting Marzipan on my Christmas Cake

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It’s time for me to catch up with a LOT of Christmas blog posts! Most, if not all of the things I made can be used throughout the year and not just the holidays!

So, after making and feeding my Christmas fruit cake, it was now time to marzipan and ice it, ready for Christmas!

Normally I would marzipan the cake, leave it a week to dry and then ice the cake – I did not have time!! So it was marzipan on, wait a day or so, then slathered on royal icing.

What do you need to marzipan a cake? Well, I use shop bought marzipan (they had run out of the natural stuff, so had to use the bright yellow marzipan) and apricot jam (to make a glaze to stick the marzipan to the cake.

Not everyone likes marzipan, but I love the stuff and it’s the best bit of a Christmas cake for me! The reason marzipan is put on a cake before icing it is to give a nice even surface and to stop cake crumbs from going into your lovely white icing. If you are really averse to it, I think you could get away with a layer of sugarpaste (fondant) or you could chance nothing at all. If you plan on flat icing a cake then you probably wouldn’t get away with it, but rough icing, I’d say yes you could.

The glaze is really simple to make – a few spoonfuls of apricot jam (I bought one with no bits in) and some water. This is not the time to worry about using expensive conserves – a cheap brand of jam is absolutely fine.

In a small saucepan place a couple of spoonfuls of jam (you could put it through a sieve if there are bits of fruit in it) and a drop of water.

Squish the jam down and heat through, stirring to break it up and bring it all together into a glaze.

Bring the glaze to a boil to dissolve jam and allow to cool before using.

Because I was rough icing my cake I wasn’t too worried about a completely smooth flat marzipan finish, but I still filled in as may big holes in my cake as I could find with blobs of marzipan to even things out a bit – these are usually places where pieces of fruit have fallen out after cooking!

Then, kneading the marzipan into a ball, it is time to get rolling. Dust the work surface and rolling pin with icing sugar to stop everything sticking and then roll out the marzipan so that it is big enough to cover your cake in one layer.

I measure the amount I need by holding my rolling pin up the side of the cake, across the top and down the other side. I wish I had pictures to show what I meant! It roughly equalled to a rolling pin length for my cake, as you can see in the second picture below I’ve rolled the marzipan out to just bigger than my pin. Ideally the marzipan should be about 3/4cm (1/4″) thick.

Then using a pastry brush, brush your glaze all over the top and sides of the cake.* You can use a bit of glaze to stick the cake to the board (if you are using one) to secure it in place. This year I was placing my cake on a cake stand, so no need for me to do that.

*I should really have glazed the cake first so it was all ready to place the marzipan over, but I was all over the place leading up to Christmas – my bad! No harm done ;)

Since I wasn’t using a cake board this year, and since I didn’t want to get icing and marzipan all over my cake stand, I used an Ina Garten – The Barefoot Contessa, trick of place squares of baking parchment under the cake to protect the surface of the stand. Worked a treat for me!

Draping the marzipan over the rolling pin, I carefully transferred it to the cake, trying to get it to cover the cake evenly all around. Then, this is a bit hard to explain and I couldn’t take photos of myself doing this, using your hands, start to push the marzipan down the cake, lifting it to get rid of folds and air bubbles as you do.

Then with a palette knife cut off the excess marzipan close to the cake. On some parts I went a little too close and had to fill it in with some more marzipan.

I then used a smoothing tool to flatten the marzipan out and make it stick well to the cake. You need to press firmly, but not too firmly and have a bit of icing sugar on there to stop it sticking to the marzipan. Roll the smoother over the edges to round them off too and then around the sides of the cake.

And all finished – cakes a bit bobbly in some places >_< but with rough icing I was not worried!

As I said earlier, you would usually leave the marzipan to dry for about a week, but it was only a day or so for me due to time constraints. If flat icing, you MUST let it dry completely or you’ll have a nightmare!

Leave to dry in a cool dry place – the kitchen is not a good place since there is a lot of moisture in the air from cooking etc, and don’t cover in a cake tin – just out on a shelf somewhere is fine!

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