Marzipan loaf cake is a Plain Jane of cakes. But don’t let its modest appearance put you off – it’s easy to make and easier to eat. For breakfast, I suggest.
Cake with marzipan
Cake with marzipan? That must be marzipan icing on top?
Wrong. Nigella’s marzipan loaf cake from Cook, Eat, Repeat cookbook is made with marzipan as an ingredient and it works there beautifully.
Except in my opinion the marzipan has to be made at home. The stuff that is sold in the shops is, frankly, disgusting. It’s the reason why for a very long time I’d thought I hated marzipan. It’s the reason why half the people who hate marzipan only hate the shop-bought stuff and don’t know it.
Marzipan is soft, pliable and not very sweet almond paste. Marzipan is made from two ingredients only: almonds and sugar in 2:1 proportion. There’s a surprise, isn’t it? Where are the eggs? The lemon juice? The tons of icing sugar? None.
Almonds blended together – whether you start with whole almonds or already ground – release the oils which meld with sugar and form beautifully soft paste; and you don’t need much sugar for that magic to happen.
The only addition to almonds and sugar that I concede to is rose water. It’s simply because it makes marzipan taste and smell like the stuff of fairy tales. And very occasionally, when the marzipan is used in truffles for example and so features on its own instead of in a cake, I add a few drops of fresh lemon juice. It enhances the flavour of raw marzipan.
This cake is about marzipan mashed up and mixed into the cake batter. It’s very simple and if you have a standing mixer or a food processor you can do it all in a blink of an eye. Almost.
What does marzipan do in the cake?
I am really embarrassed that I have to use this absolutely detestable word I’m fighting to abolish from use, but there’s no other: marzipan makes the cake moist.
The recipe is a variation of a straightforward sponge: butter, flour and eggs. But the addition of almond flour, or ground almonds, always makes the sponge softer, moister (urgh) and gives it a pleasant sandy texture. Marzipan amplifies those qualities making it a perfect little cake indeed.
Perfect for breakfast
Cake for breakfast? And why not? They do it in Italy; the French have croissants and the Americans pancakes with syrup so a sweet start to the day is nothing outlandish. And after all, the difference between a toast with butter and jam and a slice of this marzipan loaf isn’t miles wide.
If it happens to be a day or two old, a slice of this cake is absolutely delightful toasted too. I just wouldn’t put extra butter on it – or jam.