Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Christmas Cake Stage 4 – Covering with Marzipan

Ingredients
500g marzipan
1 tbsp apricot jam
1 tsp water
Icing sugar for rolling

Your Christmas cake should have matured nicely and be rich and moist thanks to its 3 or 4 weekly Brandy feeds. It is now time to cover it with a layer of marzipan. To do this unwrap your cake and carefully peel away the greaseproof paper – mmm doesn’t it smell wonderful! Remember to remove the greaseproof base too (I nearly forgot one year). Place the cake on a 9-10inch cake board. Take a bread knife and carefully trim off the top layer to level the surface – it doesn’t have to be completely flat, just ensure any lumps and bumps are removed. Don’t throw these scraps away – put them on a plate and eat them later as a sneaky preview taster of the kind of flavour you can expect from your cake. (If the top of your cake you’re a little too brown in the oven it might taste slightly bitter, but as you have just removed these bits it doesn’t matter). Once the top is fairly level, turn the cake over and use the base as the top from now on.

If you look closely you will notice that there will be a few tiny holes dotted over the surface. This is just where fruit has cooked down or been accidently pulled out by the greaseproof paper. You want to fill these to prevent the marzipan from sinking into them later. Simply use teeny tiny blobs of marzipan to fill in any of the holes. Don’t worry how many you have, they will not be noticeable once covered.

Next, roll our your remaining marzipan until 3-4mm thick and wide enough to completely cover the top and sides of your cake. To test if it is large enough, hold your cake on its cake board over the top of the marzipan and if you can see it about an inch all the way round the base of the board then it’s big enough.

Heat the apricot jam with a little water in the microwave until syrupy. Then brush the top and sides of the cake all over with warmed jam – this acts as your glue to stick the marzipan to the cake.

Lift the marzipan up with the help of your rolling pin and drape it over the cake (I think it looks like a ghost or a tablecloth). Smooth the marzipan down the sides of the cake using the side of a cupped hand. Trim off any excess using a small round-bladed butter knife – leave ½cm rim from the edge of the cake to allow the marzipan to lay flat against the cake once cut. And you’re done!

Place it in an airtight container or tin but leave one corner slightly ajar to allow the air to slightly dry the surface of the marzipan out. This won’t dry out the cake underneath. Leave to dry for 3-4 days before covering with fondant or royal icing and decorating. This time use a clear alcoholic spirit as your ‘glue.’ The idea behind leaving the marzipan to dry slightly is that if you add the icing on top straight away there is a slightly chance that the colour from the marzipan may leech into the icing and you could end up with a blotchy coloured icing, especially if you use golden marzipan. Final stage to come!

6 comments:

Johanna said...

very useful guide - I learnt to do this at school and loved doing it for years but don't do it any more - I always put the marzipan layer and royal icing layer on the same day without an effect on the colouring of the royal icing but I can see the sense in what you say (and I love your christmas pics on your banner too)

Happy cook said...

I love the tip which you gave for filing the holes with marzipan.
I will havve too bookmark the whole step of posts to make this cake next year.

Joanna said...

i have never seen a marzipan covered cake. i am really impressed by this!! that takes some skill to make that huge sheet.

i'd like to make my own marzipan. i think that'd be so cool- little marzipan cupcakes and cookies.

Gigi said...

My mom just called and said she awaits your next step! I told her to leave you comment but she is *shy*. Your cake looks fab Katie! I can't wait to the finished cake!

Elle said...

The tip about filling the holes and the one about using the jam as 'glue' are both wonderful. I hope to make a Princess Cake one day, covered with marzipan, so will remember those tips.
Your cake looks so professional!

Jerri - Simply Sweet Home said...

this looks great!