Now I’m not saying that me walking to Countdown, then to Smith & Caughey’s, then to a cafe with a few shelves of gourmet grocery items, then to a shop that sells cake decorating supplies, then to New World, then to a second, bigger Countdown, then to an Italian deli, then to an artisanal chocolate shop, then to Japan Mart, all in pursuit of marzipan, at which point I googled “how to make marzipan” and then went back to New World to buy ground almonds, means that you, in turn, are under any obligation to uplift this recipe to the sky or to simply not let it flop, but…as a freelance content writer slash food blogger whose hobbies include knitting and watching movies, I’m sure you understand that I had to get it off my chest just how far I walked. (I’m not quite done: it was 10,000 steps, according to the otherwise frequently dormant step counter on my phone.)
The comedy of physical epizeuxis aside, was the Raspberry Marzipan Cake with Lemon Glaze resulting from this toil worth undergoing said toil? It’s a confident yes and two burning calf muscles from me. The inspiration for this vaguely stems from a fruit cake with cubes of marzipan in the batter from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess book, I made two such cakes in December 2007 and was well pleased with them and the concept. Some sixteen years later I finally followed up on this thought, as if the inspirational origin cakes only happened days ago, fortunately, my tastebuds appear to not recognise time in any kind of corporate or linear capacity. First I’d planned to pair the marzipan with strawberries, but the options are either double figures for a fresh punnet of rapidly-disintegrating fruit or an equally expensive bag of frozen strawberries that might give you hepatitis, but which the supermarket is still going to sell you because that’s the world we live in currently. Further hampering this was the disparity in the range of frozen and fresh berries available, despite going to five thousand different supermarkets, but nevertheless, there was some culinary intention that went into the eventual decision to use frozen raspberries.
So this cake, with its floppily vanilla-scented batter, has cubes of chilled marzipan and lipstick-pink raspberries folded through it, with a thick, lemony glaze dripped across its surface. The raspberries, both sour and sweet, both rosily floral and hyper-fresh, bridge the gap between the intensity of the lemon and the sweet, blossomy marzipan. Furthermore, the fruit and the cubes of almond paste make the already-tender cake terrifically damp and luscious, each stubby slice studded with dashes of pink and grainy mouthfuls of almond. Next time I make this I think I’ll use almond extract in the cake instead of vanilla to truly revel in the Disaronno fragrance of it all (to that end, I am now also imagining an Amaretto sour with a raspberry element to it, furthermore, if you actually have a bottle of almond liqueur you could definitely use that instead of the vanilla.) It’s delicious, it’s gorgeous, it’s cosy but it’s chic, and saying you’ve made your own marzipan sounds infinitely more impressive than the effort actually required to do so (but if you have managed to find marzipan for sale on a shelf somewhere, good for you.)
And if the memory-of-cherry flavour of almonds isn’t for you but now you have the word “cake” in your head and wish to act upon it, you could consider my equally pretty Double Vanilla Loaf Cake with Strawberry Jam Icing; or my Incredibly Delicious Mocha Cake, the recipe of which provided the blueprint for this one.
Raspberry Marzipan Cake with Lemon Glaze
A tender and vanilla-y cake punctuated with raspberries and cubes of marzipan, draped in a lemony glaze. It is (apart from the bowls for your raspberries and marzipan) a one-bowl affair, and as fantastically delicious as it is pretty. Recipe by myself.
Raspberry Marzipan Cake:
- 150g marzipan
- 150g (1 heaped cup) frozen raspberries
- 2 and 1/2 cups flour (plus a couple teaspoons for the raspberries)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/2 cup (125ml) soy milk, or milk of your choice
- 1/2 cup (125ml) olive oil
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup
- 1 tablespoon malt vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (250ml) cold water
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more if needed
- zest of a lemon
- pinch of salt
1: Before you start anything else, slice the marzipan into 1/2-inch cubes and tip them into a bowl or container and then place that in the freezer, to ensure the cubes stay firm within the baking cake batter later. Briefly rinse the raspberries in a sieve to remove any ice crystals, then gently pat dry with a paper towel and toss with about two teaspoons of flour — which will help absorb any excess juice they leak out — and set aside. Set your oven to 180C/350F and line a 26cm square cake tin with baking paper.
2: In a large mixing bowl, sieve together the two and a half cups of flour and two teaspoons of baking soda, then stir in the cup of brown sugar and third cup of white sugar, plus the half teaspoon of salt.
3: Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the half cup each of milk and olive oil, the tablespoon each of golden syrup and malt vinegar, and the two teaspoons of vanilla extract. Carefully stir everything together, adding the cup of cold water a little at a time until you have a smooth batter. Fold in the flour-tossed raspberries and the cold cubes of marzipan, and spatula everything into your cake tin.
4: Bake the cake for 45 minutes or until the surface is firm and springy. Allow the cake to cool completely, or near enough, before you ice it. To make the glaze, stir the lemon juice a teaspoon at a time into the half cup of icing sugar until you have a shiny, bright-white glaze that’s thin enough to drip over the cake but thick enough to be opaque and not run right off the cake. I ended up using a full tablespoon of lemon juice plus a splash extra, you may need a little more or less. Drizzle the glaze over the cake in an irregular fashion with your spoon, and sprinkle over the pinch of salt — the salt, though scant in quantity, really zips it all together — then scatter the lemon zest evenly over the icing.
Store the cake in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.
- You can use ACV instead of malt vinegar, if that’s what you’ve got.
- For a more pronounced almond flavour, replace the vanilla with almond extract.
- If using fresh raspberries there’s no need to rinse them, but still toss them in a little flour before stirring into the batter.
- If, like me, you can’t get hold of marzipan it is astonishingly easy to make your own — I used this recipe and didn’t even use a processor, just stirred the ground almonds, icing sugar, almond extract and water together in a bowl until it was cohesive enough to knead into a ball. I also doubled the almond flavouring suggested in the recipe.
- You can use a tablespoon of corn syrup, runny honey, or a teaspoon of agave instead of the tablespoon of golden syrup.
- If your cake tin is a centimetre or two smaller than this I’m pretty sure it’ll work out fine, but it may need an extra five minutes in the oven.
Take Off With Us from the all-timer hall of fame of excellence film All That Jazz. First time I heard this song I was like “that’s fine” and then days, weeks, months later that damn plink-plonk New York New York-esque, just ever-so-slightly A Chorus Line-esque piano line (the latter probably entirely on purpose given Bob Fosse’s animosity towards Michael Bennett) and the zig-zagging chorus is so firmly stuck in my head that it might as well be part of my body.
Motionless by Chokebore, monumentally satisfying the way it just catapults itself from the quiet bit into the loud bit.
Young Liars by TV On The Radio, its bulky persistence calls to mind — joyfully — the looming quality of It’s Coming It’s Real by Swans, but this song is also its own thing, effervescent and syrup-heavy at the same time.
Being Alive, specifically as performed by Dean Jones on the — speaking of films I could watch every day — DA Pennebaker documentary on the Company cast recording. I experienced a birthday recently and naturally, when one’s thoughts turn to having birthdays, one’s thoughts turn to Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company; though the crowning centrepiece of this song is Elaine Stritch wrestling with Ladies Who Lunch, Dean Jones’s towering vibrato, his red turtleneck, the way Stritch smiles so fondly as he’s singing, the way this is probably his thirtieth take sung at 2 in the morning, are all reasons to want hundreds more birthdays.
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