Covering cakes with marzipan can be tricky. It can be difficult to work with, it’s sticky and prone to splitting which can be frustrating. But with a little patience, even someone as easily frustrated as me can manage it!
I think the two Ps are the key to covering a cake in marzipan: patience and pre-made. I’ve never made my own marzipan – I can’t stand the stuff – and I always buy it pre-made and preferably, already rolled out!
There are many ways to do this, one would be to cut the top circle and side strip separately and join them up, and I think you’d probably get a sharper edge this way; but I’m going to talk about the way I do it which is lazy but effective enough.
I always start by levelling off the top of the cake, which I then flip over to become the bottom of the cake.
The cake I’m covering here is my Christmas Cake which is the only fruit cake I’ll actually eat! With a fruit cake I always find you get a few little gaps in the side of the cake, don’t worry about these we’ll fill them in with marzipan later.
After you’ve levelled the cake it’s really important to give it a glaze of apricot jam. This will help the marzipan stick to the cake but it’ll also kill any bacteria that might be on the cake. I add about 2 tablespoons to a small saucepan and heat until boiling. Once bubbling, I remove from the heat and brush over the cake with a silicone pastry brush.
Once you’ve glazed the cake, fill in any small gaps with bits of marzipan before rolling out your marzipan (or unrolling it if it’s pre-rolled) into a large circle. I like thin marzipan so I use about 300g to cover a 9 inch cake, but a good rule of thumb is to use half the weight of the cake (eg if the cake weighs 1kg, use 500g).
Drape the marzipan over the cake and use the palm of your hand to smooth the top and slowly smooth out the edges, making sure you flatten out any pleats in the marzipan.
Once you’ve roughly smoothed out the sides and removed any pleats, chop off the excess and start to smooth the marzipan. You can use a proper cake smoother for this or, if you don’t have one (I can’t find mine) you can improvise! I used a metal cup measure and some baking parchment to get a smooth finish.
When you’re done your cake should look something like this (but no doubt neater!) and be ready to ice. Try and leave it for 24 hours to dry out if you can, if you’re pushed for time it can be done same day but give yourself a few hours in between.
I’ve written a post on how to cover a cake with fondant icing (here) which shows the next steps; and I’ve unveiled my final Christmas cake (here).
I’d love to see your pictures if you make this recipe, tag me over on Instagram or add #foodieforthoughtblog to your posts on Insta for me to check out.