The marzipan process is actually quite straight forward. I used bought marzipan this time (as I have 6 cakes to cover), but have made it from scratch in the past. There are loads of marzipan recipes online if you fancy home-made. Quantity wise, I tend to buy one 500g pack for the 6'' cake size and 1kg for the 8'' cakes, though 750g would probably be plenty (marzipan fiend, remember?). I find its easier to work with if you have plenty and you can make marzipan chocolates if there is any excess.
To start the marzipanning process, liberally sprinkle your clean and dry work surface with icing sugar. Knead the marzipan until it is malleable and then form it into a roughly circular shape. Place on the icing sugared surface and start rolling out the marzipan. I use a non-stick rolling pin and it is fab, if you don't have one make sure to dust your rolling pin with icing sugar. Turn the marzipan between rolls to ensure that it isn't stuck to the work surface and that so that you end up with a roughly circular shape. Roll to desired thickness, I go for about 5mm.
Next you have to get the marzipan onto the cake. The traditional way to stick the marzipan on is using apricot jam. Bring some apricot jam to the boil in a pan. Remove from the heat and pass the jam through a sieve, collecting the strained jam in a bowl. Allow this strained jam to cool before brushing it onto the fruit cake (you can also buy apricot glaze on the baking aisle, which means you can skip the boiling, sieving step). Place the cake on a cake board, using some jam to stick it down. Move the cake to the marzipan so you don't have to move the rolled out marzipan very far. To help move the marzipan you can wrap it slightly around the rolling pin and that helps support the weight and stops it ripping. Make sure you place the marzipan centrally on the cake top, then using your hand gently smooth the marzipan, firstly on the top, then round the sides. You can use a cake smoother too if you have one to help create a smooth surface, or if you have any gaps it can be used to smooth marzipan into position. Your cake should look like this.
Next, using a sharp knife cut off the excess. I hold the knife quite vertically so I can get a neat finish.
Give it a final smooth, then store in an airtight container until you are ready to add the icing. More on that next week! Merry Christmas!