Category Archives: marzipan

Simnel cupcakes

simnel cupcakes

This is another post that sees me preparing for my Easter baking course. Veg Patch Kitchen keeps me busy and I rarely get the time to bake for pleasure these days. If I am making cakes they are very likely to be for a course and are being made along with lunch items and I don’t have the time to experiment with a new recipe or post it here.  Recipe development for the courses are a different matter though. They are researched and tested ahead of time so I know that we will be able to recreate them with success during the class and they give me an opportunity to still post here.  This blog has given me pleasure, inspiration and returned my lost confidence to me many times over the last nine years and I don’t want to stop posting here when I get the opportunity. So apologies again for thinking of Easter when we haven’t left January yet.

These little morsels of deliciousness will be made by students on my Easter baking course, along with Greek Tsoureki, hot cross buns and, if we get time, Easter biscuits (aka poorly biscuits in this house).

I adore marzipan, and so do my girls. They make it just to eat, and if they can be bothered with the tiny extra effort they will cut them into animal shapes or make them into marzipan chocolates, but most likely they will just eat it in lump form. It is easy to make and so much more delicious than the bought variety.  But by all means buy some if you want to miss out the step of making the marzipan.

These little cakes are very good, moist with the rum soaked fruit and streak of marzipan and just the right amount of sweetness with the marzipan top. Don’t wait until Easter, make them now.

You don’t need to soak your dried fruit in rum but it does make these cakes extra special.  I keep a jar topped up all year so it’s always there if I need it. But, if you haven’t got a jar of  rum soaked fruit sitting on the side (and really who, apart from me, has?) All they really need is an hour or so sitting in a few tablespoonfuls of rum.

For the marzipan: (to make about 325g)
150g ground almonds
75g icing sugar
75g caster sugar
1 small egg
1 tsp lemon juice
a few drops of almond extract (optional)

Method
Place all of the ingredients (you may not need all of the egg so put half in to begin with) in a food processor and whizz until it comes together. If you don’t have a food processor then just mix the ingredients together with your hands until they come together in a smooth ball.

Cut out 24 small circles (12 for popping in the middle of the batter and 12  for the top). Make some balls for the top.  Traditionally you would have 11 balls on the top of your simnel cake to represent the apostles.

Apricot jam or something similar ( I used my crabapple jelly) to brush on the top of the cooked cakes to help the marzipan disc and balls stick.

For the cakes:
150g softened unsalted butter
150g soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g mixed  dried fruit (optionally soaked in a few tablespoonfuls of rum for at least an hour)
zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ lemon

You will need 12 cake cases and a 12 hole patty tin. Preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4 or use the middle of the baking oven of the Aga.

Method
Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between additions. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the mixture and fold these with the lemon juice and fruit gently into the mixture until well combined.

Place a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into each of the cases. Top with a disc of marzipan and then top each with another heaped teaspoon of mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until springy to the touch.

Brush the warm jam over each cake and top with a disc of marzipan and decorate with the balls. Place under a preheated grill or at the top of the roasting oven of the Aga for a few minutes until the marzipan is lightly browned. Place on a wire tray to cool completely.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Pistachio Marzipan and Chocolate Cake

It has been a very busy Easter holiday and so I am a bit behind with my posts – sorry.  The next post will be the cake for which I used the crystallised violets but I have just had a look at Choclette’s blog and she reminded me that time is running out if I want to submit an entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge.  Choclette chose marzipan this month and marzipan is one of my very favourite things.  I adore marzipan chocolates and so the idea of cooking with marzipan and chocolate really appealed. I wanted to try something a little different but that was reminiscent of Easter.  Easter, of course, means  simnel cake, but I didn’t want to make a normal simnel cake.  Then I thought about the pistachios I had bought and then about my chocolate hazelnut cupcakes and whether it might work if I made the same mixture but with pistachios and cooked the cake with a layer of pistachio marzipan like you do with simnel.  The resulting cake was moist and chewy, much more like a brownie than a cake and was better the second day than the first when it had time to settle.

I really liked this cake/ brownie and it can be made with almonds just as easily.  I urge you to have a go at making your own marzipan as it is so much nicer than shop bought. The layer of marzipan sinks to the bottom but is gloriously chewy.  The people who tried this cake gave it the thumbs up and I don’t think they were just being polite.

For the pistachio marzipan

125g pistachios, finely ground in a food processor
60g caster sugar
60g icing sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 free range egg, lightly beaten (you will only need about half the egg)

To make the marzipan:

Place the pistachios and the caster sugar and icing sugar in a bowl and mix well. Add the lemon juice and about half the egg and mix to a soft dough.  Place on a worktop dusted with icing sugar and knead until smooth. Place in the fridge until you are ready to use it.  (I made mine by putting all the ingredients into a food processor and whizzing until smooth, which worked just fine).

For the cake batter:

200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g pistachios, finely ground in a food processor
100g spelt flour (you could use wholemeal or plain flour)
25g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder

Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Roll out the pistachio marzipan into a disc that fits snugly in the tin and leave to one side whilst you make the cake.

Beat the butter with an electric whisk until creamy and then cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.  Fold in the pistachios, cocoa powder, flour and baking powder.

Place half the mixture in the tin and then carefully place the disc of marzipan on top.  Cover with the remaining batter, smoothing the top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4, for 50-60 minutes.  About halfway through check the cake and cover the top with foil if it is beginning to brown.  A skewer should come out clean when the cake is cooked.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about ten minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Stollen

Well, this is the scene outside:

Poor little birds.  The last two days we have had a lot of snow (well, to clarify I am talking about the Midlands region of the UK and we don’t get that much snow normally. So when it snows all day non-stop we like to talk about it.  It’s weather and we are English!).  This has meant that the roads are a no-go area so it was deemed a baking day.  I have had a lump of marzipan (or almond paste) in the fridge since I made the youngest’s birthday cake at the beginning of December and have been meaning to make stollen ever since.

I followed Rachel Allen’s recipe for Dodo’s Stollen in her Bake book (ISBN 13 978 0 00 725972 0) pretty much word for word. That must be a first! The recipe makes two loaves, so one was donated to Mum and Dad.  Rachel Allen suggests you try keeping it for a week to mature.  We have failed in this respect so far.

It takes a while to make, and you probably do need to be having a baking day to make this, as there is a fair amount of leaving to rise.

100g sultanas
100g raisins
100g currants
100g candied peel, chopped finely
100g ground almonds
50ml rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 x 7g sachets of fast acting yeast
225ml warm milk
500g  strong white bread flour
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground finely
6 cardamom pods, husks removed and the seeds ground finely to make ½ tsp
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
150g butter cubed
100g caster sugar
225g marzipan
icing sugar to dust

Method

Place the fruit and the almonds in a bowl and pour over the rum and the vanilla extract.  Mix well and then cover the bowl with clingfilm and put to one side whilst you make the dough.

Place the flour, salt, pepper, spices, lemon zest and yeast in a bowl  and pour over the warm milk. Mix to form a dough.  I found that it made a stiff dough with some of the flour not mixed in but figured that this was ok as you will be adding butter to the dough. Leave the dough to rest for ten minutes.  If you have a mixer with a dough hook use this to beat in the butter and the sugar.  Then knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Make it into a ball shape, place back in the bowl and cover with a large plastic bag for about 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.  It was a cold day when I was making mine so it took a bit longer than this to rise to double its size.

Using your fingertips, gently prod the air out of the dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and prod gently into a square.  Then roll with a rolling pin until it is about 2.5cm thick.  Pour the fruit and almond mixture over the top and then knead the dough until all the fruit is evenly distributed.

Cut the dough in half. Cut the marzipan in half.

Prod one piece of the dough into a square and then use the rolling pin until it measures about 15cm x 20cm.  Roll one piece of the marzipan into a sausage that is slightly shorter than the dough and place this in the middle.  Roll the dough around the marzipan and press it well to seal the seam.  Shape into a log shape and place onto a greased baking sheet.  Repeat the same with the other dough and marzipan.  Make sure you leave plenty of room between the two loaves on the baking sheet so that they can rise without growing into one another.

Cover the baking tray with the large plastic bag, making a tent shape so that the loaves won’t stick to the plastic as they rise and leave to rise again until they have almost doubled in size.

Remove from their plastic tent and cook in a preheated oven at 200°c or gas mark 6, or the bottom of the roasting oven of the Aga for about 40-45 minutes.  If you are cooking in the Aga, check at 25 minutes and if brown, transfer to the baking oven for the rest of the cooking time.

Dust well with icing sugar. Rachel Allen recommends doing this when cool, but I did it as soon as they came out of the oven so some of it glazed a little.

Allow to cool before enjoying and if you can manage it leave it to mature, and then tell me how it tasted.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Marzipan chocolates

It’s the time of year when Christmas cakes need to be marzipanned.  If you are marzipanning a cake then I definitely recommend making extra marzipan so that you can make a few of these.  I won’t be marzipanning a cake because my mum is in charge of Christmas cake baking but I couldn’t resist making some of these anyway because I love marzipan and I love chocolate therefore I adore marzipan chocolates.  You can make them into any shape and if you are more talented than me then maybe try making them into marzipan fruits.  My talents certainly don’t stretch that far.

Making your own marzipan is easy and much more satisfying and much tastier than the shop bought version.  It does contain raw eggs though so don’t make these for young children, pregnant women or the elderly or anyone else that has vulnerable health because of the risk of salmonella with raw eggs.

This is the recipe my mum always uses for her Christmas cakes and it works beautifully.

250g (8oz) ground almonds
125g (4oz) caster sugar
125g (4oz) icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp lemon juice
few drops of almond extract
1 free range egg, lightly beaten

50g 70% cocoa chocolate, melted

Method

Stir the almonds, the caster sugar and the icing sugar together in a large bowl until well combined. Add the lemon juice, almond extract and most of the egg and mix to a fairly firm dough (you may need all of the egg or you may not, so add it gradually).  Take the dough out of the bowl and knead on a surface dusted with icing sugar until smooth.  I then wrapped it in clingfilm and placed in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up a bit more before making into the sweets.

To make the sweets as pictured above I took small balls of dough and rolled until smooth then pressed down with the tines of a fork to flatten. I then dipped them in the melted chocolate and placed them onto greaseproof paper to set.

You could roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to make shapes. You could leave the chocolate out of it and simply enjoy the marzipan all on its own.

These eaten whilst enjoying a glass of Amaretto would send me to marzipan heaven.

Get printable version

Print Friendly, PDF & Email