One thing I like to do when the occasion arises is to make marzipan fruit.
I don’t think I learnt to make these either from my mother or school; I think it must have been a book or leaflet.
For those of you who have never tried this is what you need. Some marzipan, of course, a grater (the small side), a skewer, some food colouring and cloves.
In this case I used orange colouring to get orange marzipan. I used to use cochineal and yellow colouring but the Asda red and yellow colouring when mixed gave me brown. I would not recommend Asda’s food colouring.
To get the full range of fruits I had in mind I created yellow, orange, green and pink marzipan. Be prepared to wash your hands at frequent intervals, between the different colours and whenever they begin to feel sticky when forming the fruit.
To make an orange: roll a piece of marzipan round and round in your hand as you did as a child with plasticine until you get a perfect ball. Then roll it gently round and round on the small side of the grater to create the texture of rind. The add a clove in the top.The ball on the right is before and the other is completed.
You make a lemon in the same way but need, obviously to make more of a lemon shape.
I also made a banana, four flattened sides, tapered and curved and here you do need something I didn’t mention before, namely a touch of cocoa for the colouring. I use the green marzipan for apples. Again you make a ball and I like to coat one half with a dab of red colouring (shades of Snow White!). You can stick a thin clove the other way round for a stalk and I like to mark the bottom with a skewer to suggest the part where the flower was attached. Of course a small change in shape and you have a pear!I kept a bit of the green for when making a strawberry with the pink.
Here I use the skewer to suggest the seeds and to make a hole to insert some green for the top. (The photographs were taken indoors under artificial light and the green marzipan came out very faded. So I adjusted it in some photos but not here!)
If you are feeling patient you can roll lots and lots of tiny balls and make a raspberry. I had a little green and some pink, so I made a green core (though I would normally use pink) and made one just to show you. And here is a whole plate (or rather saucer!ful)
I don’t try and make the fruit sizes proportional to real life. It is more a matter of using a similar amount of marzipan for each and they are normally about the right size to fit in sweet cases (except the banana!).
And here are some other things I have made.
Two Stollen. I think I have become much better at forming them so they don’t open up.
Compare these from 2012 As you can see this year I made a lot less dough. I made a quarter my original recipe that would make four large ones and used my food processor to do the kneading to save my wrists.
I also made some lavender shortbread snowflakes. I was making some millionaires shortbread for when my daughter came on a present drop and decided that that was the ideal time to make double the amount of shortbread and turn half of it into biscuits. I had been intending to try lavender shortbread ever since I had bought some in Waitrose and really loved them, so I put in plenty of lavender as I had had it a while. (Yes it is edible lavender – some lavender tea I had bought in Winchester.)
And here is my traditional Christmas cake. Just for me, so I added what dried fruit I had including some crystallised ginger! And here is my first attempt at a tunis cake. My son had said that he would be interested to try one and having been introduced to tunis cake years ago, when I first knew my husband, but then forgotten about them, I thought I would see if you could still buy them.
I found a few in supermarkets and a couple of recipes but they all seemed to be covered with ganache, or worse still fondant icing, when I remembered them as covered with a layer of solid chocolate.
So I decided that just for fun I would try to make one.
I wanted a rounded top to the cake but it rose a bit more than expected and so the chocolate I had bought was not enough to give a perfectly flat top but I decided to leave it as it is and see how it looks when cut. Then if I make one again I will adapt with either a flatter cake or more chocolate.zzz