The perfect breakfast is a big mug of freshly made coffee and a marzipan bun. Or two.
Marzipan facts and myths
Marzipan is the white, crumbly stuff you buy in the shops, right? The sickly, artificially flavoured icing or frosting that everyone invariably peels off, picks out or simply leaves on the plate, because it just serves as a decoration and isn’t truly edible. Right?
Wrong. All wrong.
Marzipan is wonderful stuff, easily made at home even by wannabe chefs with two left arms who can just about mix together icing sugar and lemon juice. No offence intended. It can and should be made at home, for the purpose of icing, frosting, decorating, filling – and eating in truffles or with a spoon, straight from the jar.
Marzipan is seriously underrated and I was as much to blame as anyone for thinking the opening paragraph.
Since discovering homemade marzipan, I spent last Christmas period trying to invent new bakes that could benefit from marzipan filling or icing.
How to make marzipan?
There are two methods: the classic old school German resulting in not very sweet, gorgeously truffable paste. The other method veers more into the French and English ways, by adding egg and lemon juice to the mix which is sometimes more sugar than ground almonds.
English recipes and festive bakes feature marzipan in Simnel cake at Easter and as a layer of icing on the Christmas cake.
It might be odd that eggs are added to the English marzipan considering this nation’s mortal fear of raw anything. Some sensible souls will be reassured that the amount of sugar used in marzipan stops bacteria from growing in it even at room temperature. Others will use pasteurised, liquid eggs which I personally would not touch with a barge pole.
How to use marzipan safely?
What to do then? I make sure I buy my eggs from a safe producer. If I want to use them raw, I wash the shell thoroughly with warm water and soap.
For an extra precaution, use the eggy marzipan for the confections that will be baked or cooked and make the traditional, eggless type for raw use. With a drop of lemon or rose water, but never ever the vile, cheap almond extract.
And so, once you get started I’m sure that like me you will end up with surplus marzipan to keep in the fridge for up to a month or in the freezer until required.
For example, as a filling in the softest, fluffiest, nicest buns you can imagine, just the thing to make around February – between Christmas breads and Easter hot cross buns.
Or, frankly, any time of the year.
Best dough for breakfast buns
The recipe below is for very soft and buttery, but also quite forgiving dough. I needs a starter or a ferment to prove for about an hour, then the main dough needs just a little attention when adding butter to it. It’s a large amount so it needs to be added in stages, otherwise all the yeast in the world will not manage to lift such richness.
Once it’s doubled in volume, the dough can be either rolled out and cut with a pastry cutter into rounds, or simply cut into morsels rolled up into balls, then flattened.
Make sure you seal the marzipan stuffed buns very well or they’ll crack open. Though marzipan is thick and thus not lethal like jam for instance, which tends to want out through the minutest sloppy sealing in buns or rolls.
I like to bake them sometimes in a bun or a muffin tin because they will look so neat: shapely round domes rising above a mushroom stalk/muffin base. But there is nothing wrong with simply placing shaped balls onto a baking sheet and baking them like that.
They will keep quite well when wrapped tightly - perfect for a few days’ worth of breakfasts or afternoon teas.
More bun recipes
Austrian breakfast specialty, Buchteln, are filled with jam and baked snuggled up together. Perfect for sharing.
Cinnamon honey buns, glazed with butter and honey and made from sourdough are absolutely epic. No wonder they serve as currency in some prisons!
Swedish feast of St Lucia is celebrated in December with delightful saffron buns aka lussebullar.
More marzipan confection recipes
My beloved Christmas bake is traditional butter Stollen – with fruit, nuts and marzipan of course.
Make sure your marzipan production has plenty of leftovers, to make marzipan truffles coated in chocolate.
And there’s this wonderful marzipan loaf cake you can make if there is still a crumb or two of marzipan left.