Showing posts with label marzipan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marzipan. Show all posts

Friday, December 4, 2015

Apple Cherry-Marzipan Pie

by Sheila Connolly

I know I keep promising NO MORE APPLE RECIPES, but today is Meg and Seth’s wedding day, and also my grandmother’s birthday (no mere coincidence there), so there must be a dessert, and this one is definitely different. My grandmother was a confirmed dessert lover, and she believed that the sole reason for the existence of cake was to support the frosting. A lot of frosting. She kindly passed this trait along to me. (She lived to be 94, so apparently it did her no harm.)

This recipe is a bit different than most apple pies. For one thing, it includes dried cherries (which are both tart and a little sweet); for another, there’s marzipan! Bet you haven’t seen that in an apple pie! Marzipan is almond paste with added sugar, so it counter-balances the tartness of the cherries. All good!

Apple-Cherry-Marzipan Pie


8 oz (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1 lb plain white flour
1/4 cup white sugar
Pinch of salt
Water (about 5 Tblsp), chilled

Place the butter and flour in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add the sugar and salt and pulse again.

Place the water in a cup or pitcher and add slowly until the mixture holds together to form a dough (you may not need all the water, but it shouldn’t be crumbly).

Knead on a floured surface long enough to combine. Wrap it in plastic wrap or put in a plastic ziplock bag and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.


Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1/3 white sugar
4 Tblsp cornstarch
6 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2” slices (I used the last of my home-grown Cortlands)

7 oz marzipan, cut into small cubes
1 cup dried cherries (or you could substitute cranberries)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine the lemon zest, cinnamon, sugar and cornstarch.

Flour a board and a rolling pin. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator. Divide into two portions, one half the size of the other (bottom and top). Roll out the larger piece and fit it into a 9” pie pan (the pastry should overlap generously), pressing it against the sides of the pan. Place in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes.

An aside: this recipe worked better than most of my pie crusts. For a 9” pan, this must be rolled fairly thin, but it held together well and was elastic enough to fit into the pan. When baked, it was nicely crumbly and light. It’s a keeper!
Arrange a layer of apple slices in the pie dish and sprinkle with the marzipan cubes and cherries. Repeat in layers until the pan is nearly full at the edges and heaped in the middle.

Roll out the smaller piece of dough to make a lid that fits over the apples. Crimp the edges of the bottom crust over this to seal. Make a hole in the center of the crust to let the steam escape.

If you like, beat an egg yolk with a little water and use as a glaze over the crust.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden-brown (test to make sure the apples are soft). If it’s getting too brown after 25 minutes, cover the top with foil to keep the edges from burning.

In honor of Meg and Seth's special event, and the coming holidays, I'm giving away a copy of A Gala Event--and an alpaca! No, not a real one, but a very cute stuffed one. If you know someone who would enjoy it as a Christmas gift, here's your chance to win one. (And if you want to keep it for yourself, that's fine too--I had to have one of my own!) Just leave a comment here and I'll pick one lucky person.

And if you don't win, A Gala Event is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and bookstores everywhere.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Battenberg Cake

by Sheila Connolly

Funny how cooking over the holidays usually pushes us to extremes.  Either we put together a multi-course meal for twelve distant relatives, or we throw up our hands and say, "eat leftovers" or "let's order Thai."  Even if it's only your nearest and dearest, many of us (myself included) feel that we should make a special effort for the big holidays—drag out grandmother's china and real cloth napkins, roast a (fill in the blank), bake cookies and bread.  I persuaded my husband to bake a ham for Christmas this year (that was his family's tradition; mine preferred turkey or roast beef), so I volunteered to make dessert.

Rather than sticking to one of the family favorites, I decided to try making one that I discovered in the supermarket in Ireland, although I find that the recipe is English:  Battenberg Cake.  It's a boxy little thing, and I thought it looked like a holiday present, all neatly wrapped.  And the recipes I found  did not result a huge final product, which we would have to consume over the next few days—there are only three of us at home at the moment, and we don't need to eat a mountain of cake.

Here's the supermarket model
Battenberg cake dates back to the reign of Queen Victoria, although she kind of imported it from Germany.  It consists of layers of sponge cake, white and pink, cut and assembled (with a bit of jam for glue) to resemble a checkerboard, and then wrapped in marzipan.  I'm a sucker for marzipan, and besides, you just buy that readymade and roll it out to wrap your cake.

I confess up front:  I have never made this before, and I ran into a few snags.  One:  the only recipes I could find were English, which meant the measurements were given in ounces (weight, not liquid), and I had a few issues converting to American measurements.  I should have known that a recipe with equal parts butter and flour was doomed from the start.  For my second attempt I recalculated and arrived at something that resembled cake.  Good thing I allowed plenty of time to make this, and had lots of butter on hand!

Two:  the recipe called for a six-inch-square cake pan with straight sides.  Raise your hands, all of you who have a six-inch cake pan.  Uh-huh, I thought so.  I didn't, although I have eight-inch and nine-inch ones.  But increasing a recipe to work with a larger pan is complicated, so I crafted my own six-inch insert for a larger pan, using…roof flashing.  Cover it with plenty of foil and brush with butter and it works fine. (Oh, did I mention you have to split the six-inch pan into two parts, so you can dye half of the batter pink?)

"too much time on her hands, eh?"
you're saying about now

By now you are thinking, was she insane?  Ah, 'tis the season for insanity.  I crafted a make-shift cake pan, I figured out the right measurements for the ingredients, and I was off to the races.


Once I had actually managed to bake the cake, I was faced with making the pieces of cake match up so I could achieve the right checkerboard pattern.  My biggest fear was that I would shave so much off to make it perfect that the final cake would end up about two inches across (in that event I planned to call it petit fours.  So I sacrificed precision, just a bit.  As a whole, it worked—and it tasted good. 

So if you're ever in the mood to make a simple complicated cake, here's the recipe (translated from the English):


2/3 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs (room temperature). beaten

2 Tblsp whole milk (room temperature)

1 tsp vanilla extract (or a mix of vanilla and almond)


1¼ cups flour

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt


Pink or red food coloring

½ cup seedless jam (apricot or raspberry)





Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line your baking pan or pans with foil and brush with melted butter.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt. In the large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, vanilla and milk.  Add the flour mixture and beat until smooth.

Divide the batter into two equal batches, and add red food coloring to one batch.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in the pans (with the foil, the cakes will be easy to remove).

Melt the jam in a small pan with a little water, to make it thin and spreadable.


Trim the cakes to equal size, then cut in two lengthwise.  Take one pink piece and one white piece and "glue" them together with the jam.  Repeat with the second pair. Paint the top of the joined pieces with jam, and "glue" on the second pair.


Roll out your marzipan (one recipe called for a single 7-oz. package, which is what you see most often in stores, but I wasn't sure how far it would go so I used two).  Paint the outside of your joined cake pieces with the rest of the jam, then wrap it in marzipan.  Stick the edges together on the bottom with a bit of jam. (If you like, you can press interesting patterns onto the marzipan with whatever tool you want.)


Trim off the raggedy ends. Wrap in Saran wrap and chill for at least half an hour (overnight is fine).


To serve, slice carefully with a sharp knife.

Coming February 2013, the first in my new County Cork Mystery series.