The Marzipan bit...
I decided to roast the ground almonds to give it more taste and as I didn't want to add any essence of almond, it did help with taste. Just put into an oven for 25/35 minutes (depending on quantity - it has to turn golden) at 180°c/350°f turning every 7-8 minutes especially the corners and the base. It's an option but if you want to add food colour to make it yellow this will make it darker so just skip this part.
230 g/1 cup + 2 tablespoons or sugar
4 tablespoons of water
180 g/1 and1/2 cups less 2 tablespoon of ground almonds
1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1 egg white
(option: 2 teaspoons of brandy, Calvados or 1 teaspoon of almond essence or just water)
Heat the sugar and water in a pan and don't stir or touch (swirl a bit if you want!); it will start to bubble and you want to heat it to 116°c/240°f (sugar terms =soft ball stage). Put the pan immediately into a bowl of cold water to cool and stop the cooking. Add the cream of tartar and whisk this back on the heat (low now) until it changes texture (glue-ish), then stir in the almonds, followed by the egg white and the optional Calvados as above. Cook for a good minute while stirring. Let the mix cool and kneed (adding food colour at this point - if using). Roll out as if it were pastry using icing/powdered sugar. Use either apricot or marmalade (2 tablespoons with 2 teaspoons of water heated in a pan as the glue, painting it over the cake).
Alternatively the uncooked version is - 180 g or 1 and 1/3 cups icing/powdered sugar and 180 g or 1 and 1/2 cups less 2 tablespoons of ground almonds, mixed with an egg white and a tablespoon of brandy. Mix and follow the stages above but be aware of raw egg whites with the old and young (and alcohol) - third option is to buy it!!
Cover the cake and let it stand a day before icing.
The icing bit...
Fondant icing, is a cooked sugar that you can roll out - again it can be bought or made...
500 g / 3 and 3/4 cups icing/powdered sugar (plus more for correcting the texture and rolling out)
40 g or 1 and 1/2 oz water
6 g or 1/4 oz sheet leaf gelatine (3 sheets)
50 g or 2 oz glucose syrup
-Put the leaf gelatine into cold water for 5 minutes.
-Heat the water with glucose syrup, but just hot (do not boil); melt in the gelatine.
Whisk in a machine the icing/powdered sugar with the warmed glucose mixture; let the machine run a few minutes to let the icing cool down. I like to stop it half way and scrape the sides and base so all is mixed in well - you may want to add more sugar. It has to be solid and not too much liquid. Turn it out on to your work area and work like bread to make a dough adding more icing/powdered sugar if it is sticky. It rolls out as shown in the picture above and just proceed as pastry rolling big enough to cover the cake (use a piece of string to measure the cake). Paint on water or marmalade diluted (as above) on to the marzipan. Trim the excess and just add a ribbon or pipe royal icing as per the recipe below. I added some marzipan leaves and flowers.
Alternatively you can use only royal icing, which you spread over the cake as a snow scape using a pallet knife to spread on and then the back of a folk to lift up into peaks - or smooth it round and pipe a design on top.
About 2 cups of icing/powdered sugar mixed with 2 egg whites (or water if whites are a problem), whisk in machine until firm and the sugar holds it shape. It generally can take a bit more icing/powdered sugar than you think
Note - remember to tightly wrap up all icing and marzipan so it does not dry out!
This is the texture you are looking for...
Cover and press down with your hands firming it all around then trim off the excesses.
My icing is bit wobbly but I am thinking... by the time we eat it, it will be beautiful or will that be the Calvados talking!!
It's not perfect but it tastes good and was a lot of fun to do!!
Baked with love...