Sunday, 24 April 2011

Famous Faces’ Favourite Fancies – Fruit cake and marzipan

Chances are if you’ve ever been at home during the week and turned on the television, you will have come across the legend David Dickinson hosting either Bargain Hunt or, more recently, Dickinson’s Real Deals. What this man doesn’t know about antiques simply isn’t worth knowing but it’s his flamboyant style and eccentric turns of phrase that have made him such a well-loved TV personality. Items aren’t a bargain they’re “cheap as chips” and female contestants are always called ‘girls’ regardless of their age.

I knew that any cake selected by ‘The Duke’ would be a right bobby dazzler and he didn’t disappoint. He sent a very lovely reply to my query re his favourite cake written with a proper ink pen in artistic and flowing handwriting – it really made my day receiving it!

David selected a Christmas cake. He reminisces about his grandmother making the fruit cake a couple of months before Christmas, then later making the marzipan. I love the way he describes licking out the bowl as “heaven” – a sentiment I can totally understand! This was the cake that stood out in his memory but he adds that having an ‘old fashioned’ gran, he was never short of wonderful cake. Yet again, it highlights to me that cake is so cemented in our psyches probably as much for the people we connect it to as the actual cake.

To set about making The Duke’s request I used my Christmas fruit cake recipe and a new marzipan recipe to make a Simnel cake. Simnel cake is a traditional Easter cake comprising of fruit cake with a marzipan topping. The marzipan balls on top symbolise the apostles (minus Judas). I’m not really one for religious symbolism so jazzed the design up with some chicks. Incidentally, when the CCD (Caked Crusader’s Da) saw the cake he asked why it had pickled onions on it!

The recipe for the cake can be found here.

Now anyone who read my recent Battenberg cake post will know that I sometimes struggle with marzipan. Not any more! I came across this easy-peasy recipe and, what do you know? It produces awesome marzipan in a matter of minutes, and it’s all made in one bowl – no heating eggs in bowls balanced on saucepans. The only small issue to point out is that it contains raw egg, so anyone slightly vulnerable with health issues shouldn’t eat it. The recipe is set out below.

My other Easter bakes were :

Easter biscuits (recipe can be found HERE) – they’re so tasty I have to make them every year!

Strawberry, blackberry and raspberry cheesecake (recipe can be found HERE) – no reason other than it’s delicious!


For the marzipan:

230g ground almonds
115g icing sugar
115g caster sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 eggs, separated


Place the almonds and both sugars into a bowl and stir until combined. I did this in my Kitchenaid mixer.

Add the egg yolks and almond extract and mix until well combined.

Add a spoonful of the egg white and beat, continue to add tablespoonfuls of egg white until the marzipan forms into a firm ball.

Roll the marzipan out between two sheets of clingfilm – this means you don’t have to add any more icing sugar to it, plus peel off only one sheet of clingfilm when you wish to position on the cake – you have far more control over it while the clingfilm supports it (obviously put it face down on the cake i.e. so the clingfilm is on top!)

Peel off the clingfilm.

Cut the marzipan to size.

For this cake I rolled out about half of the marzipan to cover the top of the cake and used the rest for the balls.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.



C said...

It looks like a delicious moist rich fruit cake - definitely one for marzipan lovers with the size of those balls!!!

Your cheesecake looks amazing - truly stunning and perfect for the glorious weather at the moment!

Happy Easter!

Anonymous said...

Hi it all looks amazing, could dig into it all, may even have to try making the marzipan....... the cheese cake looks good too Nikki

Lisa Shannon said...

I so love this post, especially your comments about "the Duke". It made me laugh out loud,for the uninitiated you have described him perfectly. I'm so glad he is a real letter writer,anything less, and I would have been disappointed.

I will have to make your Cheesecake tomorrow (hubby's favourite), it looks wonderful.

Best Wishes and Happy Easter.

Maggie said...

You have been very, very, busy CC.
I have no idea where you bought those strawberries from at this time of the year but the cheesecake looks very tempting.

Jacqueline said...

This is such a fabulous series CC. I am really enjoying it :)

Cakelaw said...

What a terrific cake- and thanks for the easy marzipan recipe. I have lots of respect for The Duke for giving you such a nice reply - we get Bargain Hunt here.

Joy said...

What an extraordinary Easter feast and a beautiful post!

Rhyleysgranny said...

Oh I am sitting here laughing at the 'pickled onions' The cake looks fabulous and I love the little chick sitting as if wondering where the slice went.
Cheesecake wow. Mouthwatering.
I have taken note of your biscuit recipe as it looks so good.
Happy Easter :)

Katie said...

You can't beat a tasty simnel cake. It was traditionally made for Mothers Day with a layer of marzipan in the centre too, but has since become more associated with Easter.

I love how people are taking the time to reply to your letters and share their food memories. Its great. Can't wait to see how's next. Have a great week

lynn said...

'Pickled onions' - love it!!!!

Cake looks gorgeous, as do the Easter biscuits. I might have to try those myself.

Maria♥ said...

Wow, everything looks amazing!

Happy Easter :)


Kate said...

That's loads of glorious, dazzling glory you must have been basking in CC! A great load of Easter baking there!

Really enjoying reading the blog


I heart cupcakes said...

It's a bobby dazzler alright! I used to love watching him - always wondering about his perma-tan!
Fantastic series - can't wait to see who is next!
I love the cheesecake even more - mainly because I'm not very keen on marzipan!!
Hope you had a lovely Easter

Gloria said...

This look amazing and delicious! gloria

Beth (Jam and Clotted Cream) said...

Wow you got a reply from DD! Looks lovely and moist

Xinmei @ Pudding Pie Lane said...

The fruit cheesecake looks absolutely amazing! Also, I've never watched Dickinson’s Real Deals but I watched Bargain Hunt (I think it was on around the same time as Ready Steady Cook...?). I'm sure 'The Duke' would have liked these cakes :)