Danya and I have different world views when it comes to recipes. I love the classics and she’s really into twisting, tweaking and changing recipes until they are hers. So when we sat down to brainstorm about what we wanted to post for the upcoming Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana), I came out and said it- “Why don’t we do a recipe for a delicious honey cake”.
She gave me one look and if I had to translate it in my own tongue it would have said- “Seriously!”. So instead of going for the super traditional route (apple cake is like the pecan-pie of Thanksgiving), I decided to let her take this holiday. (Don’t worry classic lovers, I’ll get the next holiday).
We teamed up this year with one of the best bakeries in Tel Aviv, Margoza bakery. It’s tiny and family run, and it’s Danya’s and my favorite spot for coffee before a shoot, for a lunch meeting and even for an afternoon baked snack. So when we sat with Michal, the owner of Margoza, we picked her brain for an untraditional kind of holiday dessert. And there it was: Marzipan.
I always thought that Marzipan was the kind of either you love it or hate it food, and I thought I was closer to the hate it side (although I really don’t like to say hate when it comes to food). But once I tried Michal’s homemade marzipan I was seriously hooked. I kept on going back to the fridge to cut off another tiny piece and then another tiny piece and by the end of the day I had probably eaten at least a cups worth.
It’s insanely easy to make from home, who knew?
Happy holidays from us to you.
All you need to make homemade Marzipan is finely ground almonds, powdered sugar and egg whites. Thats really it.
Almonds- You can use almonds that are unpeeled, but that requires soaking, and peeling them. It’s best to either buy ready made ground almonds or to simply grind them yourself using blanched almonds. I found that putting blanched almonds in the blender yields the finest texture.
Egg whites– This is what brings the marzipan together. If you prefer not to use egg whites you can substitute with simple syrup.
Texture– One of the benefits of making marzipan yourself is that you can control the desired texture. Michal made two very different textures of marzipan with the two cakes she brought. The one she made for the bebka was doughlike and the one she made for the tart was softer, making it easy to pipe onto the tart. The more egg whites (or syrup) you add, the softer and more “liquidy” the marzipan becomes.
Flavor– You can add flavors to the marzipan according to your taste. We decided to add Amarena cherries to our marzipan in the bebka cake which turned out to be a fabulous match. You can add lemon zest, rose water or pure almond extract (water based, not alcohol) or any other flavor you may desire. Just make sure to put a very small amount so that the flavor doesn’t overpower the flavor of the marzipan. Flavors should be added to the dry ingredients (see recipe below).
1⅔ cups powdered sugar
2⅔ cups finely ground almonds
1 large egg white, lightly beaten or 2 tablespoons simple syrup
Marizpan and Amarena Bebka
This is one of those cakes that are really hard to resist. Once it comes out of the oven it will fill the entire house with the most delicious aroma of sweet dough and almonds. The best part of this cake are those little burnt pieces of marzipan that are exposed while baking- they are little caramelized pieces of heaven.
Ingredients for 2 cakes (in a loaf pan)
For the dough:
2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons milk
½ tablespoon instant dry yeast
¼ cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 oz./115 grams butter, cold, cut into cubes
For the Marzipan:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons finely ground almonds
1 tablespoon egg white, lighlty beaten
¼ cup Amarena cherries, strained from the liquid
Apple and Marzipan Tart
This is a very festive and impressive dessert, perfect for any holiday dinner. If you are not into piping bags and all that, you can simply spread a layer of the marzipan onto the cake. Wont look as pretty but will still have the same awesome taste.
Ingredients for a 10-inch tart pan:
For the almond crust:
4 oz./115 grams butter, cold cut into cubes
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup finely ground almonds
1 large egg
pinch of salt
For the apple filling:
5 granny smith apples, cut into small cubes
1½ cups sugar
For the marzipan:
1½ cups powdered sugar
1¾ cups finely ground almonds
5 tablespoons egg whites (from about 2.5 eggs), lightly beaten