Monday, 29 February 2016

History Bakers: Marchpane

For this month’s History Bakers, I wanted to try something different to my previous bakes and as I was looking through our various recipes I became intrigued by this recipe for marchpane or marshpain, an early version of marzipan.

Original recipe from U DDHO/19/1

The recipe is taken from our Hotham collection (item ref. U DDHO/19/1) and, in its original form, is a little confusing for the modern baker. I wasn't quite sure what it meant by ‘wafors’ and I couldn't quite picture how it was meant to look. As such, I scoured the internet for further advice and found that the ‘wafors’ performed the same job as greaseproof paper does for us today, and that marchpane could be moulded into any shape desired but that in this case it was meant to be a circular ‘slab’ decorated with sweets.

The end result is essentially an almond biscuit, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. As it is baked, it is not soft all the way through, like modern marzipan, and I’m not sure it would be that easy to cover a cake with marchpane! It was, however, another interesting foray into historical baking, providing insight into what used to be a very popular sweet treat.

If you would like to have a go yourself, please see below for a modernised recipe:
Marchpane
200g ground almonds
100g icing sugar
Approx. 6 tsp rosewater

1. Mix together the almonds and icing sugar, making sure any lumps of icing sugar are smoothed out.
2. Add the rosewater a teaspoon at a time. Start by mixing with a spoon and then with your hands. Keep adding the rosewater until it becomes a smooth paste. The dough should not be sticky and should not be over worked as it will become oily.
3. Dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the marchpane to approximately 1cm depth.
4. Cut around a plate to create a circle of marchpane and place on a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper. Any leftover marchpane can be used to create other shapes for decoration.
5. Bake in the oven at 150C (300F) for about 25 minutes, until it is starting to brown.
6. Allow to cool before decorating with icing (mix of icing sugar and rosewater) and your decorations of choice.

The finished marchpane!

Let us know what you think if you have a go at making it. Here are some of our thoughts...

Dave - Very sweet and surprisingly crunchy
Elaine - Can taste the almonds, biscuit consistency
Claire - Chewy, almondy and sweet, lovely and surprising!
Christine - Lovely almond flavour and pleasantly chewy!
Mrs West - Very chewy, crunchy and sweet
Martin - Crunchy and almondy, although not to the extent I was expecting
Alex - Really delicate almond and rose flavour, sort of marzipan in biscuit form!
Pete - Very good, had three pieces...
Laura - Chewy, sweet and lovely almond flavour, very tasty

Verity Minniti, Archives Assistant

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