Marzipan, a rather Marmite food.. you either love it or hate it. Personally I have a deep fondness of this sweet confection which is made up of ground almonds, egg & either sugar or honey to form a versatile malleable paste. Reminiscent of Christmas for me, December is when my pantry is overrun with both marzipan & fondant awaiting the day that I hurriedly ice (rush around the kitchen like a lunatic) around seven Christmas cakes ready for gifting.
In my naivety I had relegated Marzipan to but a yearly appearance in my festive cakes, this was until I built up the small library of cookery books that now take over my straining Ikea bookshelf. My trusted companions opened my eyes to the many possibilities of my now favoured sweet almond paste, particularly its use both in Nordic & German baking.
I owe every experimental marzipan recipe in my repertoire to one bun… semla. A recipe I came across in Trine Hahnemann’s cookbook, Scandinavian Baking for a sweet spiced little bun, hollowed out & filled with a delectable almond marzipan cream (I briefly recall eating about thee of these in succession). I was captivated & soon I was producing Battenberg, stollen, simnel cakes & kransekage (I have yet to build up the courage to attempt a prinsesstårta).
Whilst marzipan is simple enough to make, I always opt for store-bought (which is even simpler), mostly because it saves time. There are some top quality marzipans readily available in most supermarkets these days, but for me I rely on Renshaw for a flavourful, adaptable marzipan. Unlike some store-bought alternatives which can be tough at first, this one is malleable & ready to use. Plus Renshaw is a Royal Warrant Holder so it sits quite comfortably next to my Twinings collection (if it’s good enough for the queen then it’s good enough for my humble kitchen).
I’m sure her majesty would grant such a privilige on The Marmalade Teapot if she ever has the opportunity to try some of my bakes… but for now my own approval will have to suffice. An experiment that took inspiration from the German apfelkuchen & the Nordic tosca cake, taking two classic flavours that work so well together… apple & marzipan cake.
APPLE & MARZIPAN CAKE
(makes one 20cm sandwich)
- 150g butter
- 175g light soft brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 225g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 small apples, peeled & diced
- 150g Renshaw marzipan, grated
For the filling:
- 200ml whipping or heavy double cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 75g Renshaw marzipan, grated
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, flour, eggs, cinnamon & baking powder until well combined
- Take 2 tbsp of the grated marzipan & put to one side
- Add the diced apple & remaining grated marzipan to the bowl & fold these through the mixture until evenly distributed
- Divide the mixture between two 20cm sandwich tins, greased & lined with baking parchment
- Use the 2 tbsp of reserved marzipan & sprinkle over the top of one of the cakes
- Bake the cakes at 180C for 1 hour
- Allow the cakes to cool in their tins for 10 minutes before removing & allowing to cool fully on a cooling rack
- Once cool, make the filling by whipping up the cream until it has increased in volume & begins to form peaks
- Stir the grated marzipan through the cream
- Use this to cover the top of one of the cakes before sandwiching the other on top
- Dust lightly with icing sugar to finish