Marchpane

Marchpane (the forerunner of marzipan) was made as a treat for special occasions in the 17th century. It is a very practical food as it can be made into all sorts of shapes to reflect whatever you are celebrating. It might even be coated with gold leaf. At Moseley Old Hall this Christmas we are creating a peacock shaped marchpane centerpiece.

Cakes and bakes
Moseley Old Hall peacock
  • Preparation time 60 mins (prep. time)
  • Cooking time 1 - 2 hours depending on thickness of marchpane (cooking time)
  • Serves 10

Ingredients

  • 450g/16oz ground almonds.
  • 250g/8oz caster sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp rose water

Method

  1. Work the ground almonds and sugar together adding just sufficient rosewater to make a stiff paste.
  2. Roll out the paste to approximately 8mm thickness on a sheet of greaseproof paper.  If it should stick use a little icing sugar to dust the rolling pin.
  3. If making a traditional Marchpane, cut a large circle turn up the edge and, using a fork, mark a pattern as for the edge of a pie. Any remaining paste can be cut into fancy shapes such as hearts or diamonds. 
  4. Place all on a baking sheet ready for drying. Alternatively, cut all the paste with a 75mm (3in) round biscuit cutter. 
  5. To dry the paste put into a cool oven 150ºC/gas mark 2 for 15 minutes, then open the door of the oven for 15 minutes, repeat this procedure until the paste is firm and dry but only very lightly coloured.
  6. The Marchpane may be glazed by brushing with icing sugar until dissolved in rosewater (3 tbs sugar to 1 tbs rosewater) and returning to the oven for 5-10 minutes – watch carefully as the glaze should dry to a glossy finish, not white and frothy!
  7. The large Marchpane should be decorated using the small Marchpane shapes, marzipan fruits etc. In the 17th Century for very special occasions the Marchpane would be coated with gold leaf.