I’ve always said there’s no point knowing something if you are not willing to pass that knowledge on. There are no huge secrets to cake decorating but sometimes its just difficult to know where to look for answers. This is the first in a series of #CakeKnowHow posts that I will be publishing – All about getting the basics right of baking and cake decorating.
The purpose of this post is to show how to cover a cake in marzipan – The base layer to getting a perfectly smooth iced cake. My fruit cakes come out of the oven, lumpy and bumpy – Just like everyone else’s. It’s what you do afterwards that makes the difference.
I will be honest, this probably isn’t even the smoothest marzipan covering I’ve ever done but you will be able to see that with a layer of icing on top, we will get a lovely cake. In the next few posts, I will cover subjects like ‘How to Ice a Sponge Cake’ and other decorating basics. Feel free to ask if there are any subjects that you would like me to cover.
Ingredients & Equipment
8″ Round Fruit Cake
Approx 500g Marzipan (I use White Marzipan as Golden can show through to the icing)
2 tbsp Apricot Jam (Cheap is good as it is likely to contain less fruit bits)
12″ Round Board
Icing Sugar Shaker with icing sugar
Smaller Pallet Knife (or non-serrated small kitchen knife)
Smoother (This is a piece of cake decorating equipment that you really can’t substitute for anything else)
Long rolling pin – Preferable a straight, white plastic one – Without handles at the end.
Let’s get started:
1. Mix the Apricot Jam with 4-5 tbsp boiled water and microwave for 10 seconds. You want it hot to get rid of any bacteria. You also want it runny, so feel free to add another tbsp of water.
2. Turn the cake upside down on the board – I say there are no secrets to cake decorating but actually this is the one that causes most people to go ‘Ooh!’
3. Brush all over with the jam.
4. Fill in any small holes on the top or sides with tiny balls of marzipan – Flatten down with your finger.
5. Wrap a sausage of marzipan around the gap at the base of the cake.
6. Flatten with the kitchen knife or pallet knife so you get a smooth surface and brush over again with the jam.
7. On a worktop or surface, lightly covered with icing sugar, roll out the remaining marzipan until it is a thickness of about 5mm. Keep moving every time you roll one way so it does not stick to the surface. You might need to add more icing sugar underneath the marzipan and even a tiny sprinkling on the top to stop your rolling pin sticking.
8. Pick up the marzipan by rolling the pin underneath the marzipan sheet and slowly lift over the cake, adding from one side to the next. Make sure the marzipan is big enough to cover each side of the cake.
9. Smooth down the top of the marzipan on the cake with the smoother. This will stop it moving as you flatten down the sides. Use the palms of your hands to smooth the sides down gradually until all the sides are covered with marzipan.
10. Trim the edges until they are about 1cm away from the edge of the cake and press this 1cm edge inwards with the smoother.
11. Trim as close to the cake as you can and spend at least 1-2 minutes thoroughly smoothing down. (You might want to add a tiny bit of icing sugar to the surface of the smoother to stop it sticking to the cake as you are smoothing)
You might see the odd air bubble appear (tends to be more for icing but still occasionally happens with marzipan). If you do, sterilise a pin or needle in boiling water and pop the bubble twice – you can then lightly squeeze any trapped air out and continue to smooth down the top and sides of the cake.
Traditionally cakes have always been left for a minimum of 24 hours before covering with icing after the marzipan – I’ll be honest, sometimes I’ve been so pushed for time that I’ve covered it less than an hour later and it has worked out perfectly fine.
Feel free to Pin this guide for later! Hope it helps. Any questions – I would love to help you answer them.